US Army shooter wins gold in double trap

Aug. 12, 2008, 5:24 p.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) Glenn Eller fired two more shots, then turned and pumped his fist.

On behalf of his country - and the U.S. Army - he was an Olympic champion.

"There's nothing better to do for the United States," Eller said. "I don't know how to better represent them than to sit here with a gold medal in my hand."

Eller won the gold in double trap Tuesday, the first for the U.S. in shooting at the Beijing Games. The final round included two members of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit - Eller and fourth-place finisher Jeff Holguin.

Francesco D'Aniello of Italy won the silver, and Hu Binyuan of China took the bronze.

Eller, a Texas native, is a three-time Olympian. He finished 15th in 2000 and 17th in 2004. At 26, he was the youngest of the six finalists this year.

Olympic success is nothing new for the Army unit based in Fort Benning, Ga. In 2004, Mike Anti won the silver medal in the three-position rifle.

Eller said he went through infantry basic training with everybody else - and that he knows his share of people fighting in Iraq.

"I'm supportive of them, they're supportive of me," he said.

Eller set an Olympic record in qualifying, hitting 145 targets. That gave him a four-shot lead heading into the 50-target final.

He started the final by missing the first two targets.

"It was a little dicey there for a second," he said. "I knew exactly what I did wrong, so I just calmed myself down and made sure I went back through my routine, what got me into the final."

Eller ended up shooting 45-for-50 in the final, and his total score of 190 was another Olympic record. D'Aniello could have beaten him, but he would have needed a perfect final to do so.

D'Aniello and Hu finished with scores of 187 and 184.

"I was not under much stress," Hu said. "Clay target shooting developed much earlier in Europe, so it's stronger on the whole. But if we keep working hard, we still have the chance."

Eller clinched the gold by hitting both targets in the next-to-last pair, then gave his celebratory fist pump.

Holguin, of Yorba Linda, Calif., hit only 42 targets in the final round after a qualifying score of 140.

The final included past Olympic champions Russell Mark of Australia and Richard Faulds of Britain. Mark won gold in 1996 in Atlanta.

"The first time I ever saw my event, Russell Mark won it," Eller said. "It was great having him out there in the final with me, and to be next to an Olympic champion."

Faulds, the 2000 winner, dropped to 13th in Athens but rebounded for a sixth-place finish Tuesday. He could be a hometown favorite four years from now in London.

"It's four years away," Faulds said. "So a lot of water is going to pass under the bridge until then."

As for Eller, he knows he has a bright future in shooting - and he says he's thought of being a career soldier.

"I'm playing it by ear," he said. "I know I'm going to stay in through the next Olympics."