U.S. shooters earn two spots for 2016 Paralympic Games
Nerves and big-event jitters have taken a toll on the 10 USA Shooting Team members participating in the 2014 International Paralympic Committee Shooting World Championships in Suhl, Germany. That all ended today with a performance from Mike Tagliapietra (Fond du Lac, Wisconsin) that secured the first finals entry of any team member and the best overall finish of eighth.
Shooting in the P3 25m Mixed Sport Pistol event, Tagliapietra finished fifth overall in qualifying out of 39 competitors but would have to settle for an eighth-place finish after being eliminated during his first series of shots in the semifinal. More importantly though, Tagliapietra becomes the second U.S. competitor in the past two days to earn a valuable Paralympic quota spot for the upcoming 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, joining rifle shooter McKenna Dahl (Arlington, Washington), who did so as well Monday in the event of R4 10m Air Rifle Mixed Standing SH2 while finishing 20th overall.
While excited to earn the quota, he couldn't hide his disappointment to finish eighth. According to USA Shooting National Paralympic Coach Bob Foth, the final got off to a very rough start for Tagliapietra when he was unable to hear the unusually quiet “load” command before his first series.
“He was still loading during the first shot, but got the next 4 down range,” Foth said. “The new finals format is scored in hits, so it wasn’t the end of his chances, but he was certainly frustrated by it. It was a great but painful learning opportunity that he won’t forget.”
Tagliapietra has been shooting competitively since December 2011 after finding the sport once again following a 2003 single-vehicle car accident that would paralyze him from his mid-back down. He was a competitive wheelchair racer before committing fully to the shooting sports.
Dahl got her start in the sport in 2009 while attending Camp Access, a summer camp for kids with disabilities in Washington. Dahl, who just graduated from high school and moved to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, last month, was born with amyoplasia, a rare, non-progressive muscle disorder characterized by overall lack of muscular development, loss of joint motion and deformity of most joints.
Dahl was the third-ranked woman in the event she earned her quota. In that event, IPC allocated six slots for men and three for women.
“She shot a smart, consistent solid performance, not far off her personal best,” said Foth, a 1992 Olympic silver medalist.
Dahl shot this morning in the R5 10m Mixed Prone Air Rifle event, but struggled to a 45th-place finish.
While the individuals themselves haven’t qualified yet for Rio, the quota spots help in the ongoing process of building depth in the USA Shooting Paralympic program that began after the 2008 Paralympic Games and had just two qualifiers in 2012. The two earned quota spots are in events not contested in 2012 by U.S. Paralympic Team members.
More than 268 athletes from 55 countries are competing for World Championship titles, as well as the first quota slots for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janerio, Brazil. Attendance at this year’s World Championship organizers say is up 28% from the last World Championships held in 2010 in Zagreb, Croatia.
Other results for the USA Shooting Team includes 38th for Jazmin Almlie-Ryan (Houston) in R4 10m Air Rifle Mixed Standing SH2 event and 59th in today’s R5 10m AIR RIFLE Mixed Prone event. Josh Budd was the top American in 23rd-place in the R3 10m Air Rifle Mixed Prone SH1 event and finished 31st in R6 50m Mixed Prone Rifle. John Joss (Corsicana, Texas) finished 29th, Tammy Delano (Rome, New York) was 69th and Nick Beach (Dresden, Ohio) was 83rd in the R3 10m Air Rifle Mixed Prone SH1 event. Joss also finished 22nd in R6 50m Mixed Prone Rifle while Delano also finished 22nd in the R2 Women’s 10m Air Rifle Standing event . In P1 10m Air Pistol, Eric Hollen (Colorado Springs) finished 21st. Not bad for a guy who has been unable to train and compete regularly given the work he's doing in Alaska to support Veterans. Tagliapietra was 36th while Shaun Tichenor (Brainerd, Minnesota) finished 60th.