Toughness Until the End in Women’s Three-Position Rifle #TeamUSA

Thrasher & Scherer Exude Toughness Until the End in Women’s Three-Position Rifle
 

Thursday could be characterized as the one shot that got away for both U.S. competitors in Women’s Three-Position Rifle, Ginny Thrasherand Sarah Scherer.  Change the outcome of the 58th and 41st shot for both and history might be altered.

As it were, however, the U.S. was left with an 11th and 33rd-place finish. One from a woman who now becomes the face of the USA Shooting’s rifle program with a future that is bright, even if the expectation level is off the charts given a 2016 for the ages. The other, a two-time Olympic finalist choosing to walk away from a sport she loves due to a back unable to support that endeavor any longer.

Returning to the range she won Olympic gold at five days ago in Air Rifle, Thrasher would make it exciting once. She was in the Finals hunt until shooting an “8” on her 58th shot (second to last) in Standing. Her 581 placed her 11th, one target back of making Final.

“It was a difficult match – there were some tough conditions out there with the wind in standing,” Thrasher said. “I’m a little disappointed not to make the final, but in the end, I shot the best I could. It’s been a great week, but I’m excited to come back and try again.”

“This has been an incredible experience for Ginny,” her coach and West Virginia University Rifle coach Jon Hammond said in a WVU Rifle release. “To walk away from the Games with an Olympic Gold medal is incredible. The impact and significance of it all, given that Ginny’s medal was the first of the Rio Games, has added to the publicity, which has been great for Ginny, the WVU rifle program, West Virginia University and NCAA rifle. It’s also been fantastic for the sport, and hopefully people have learned more about rifle.”

As noted in describing her career and comeback from a debilitating back injury, it was SCHERER DETERMINATION for the 25-year-old Sarah Scherer right to the very last shot. Her match destiny pretty much was decided when she cross fired (shot someone else’s target) in her very first shot in the standing series, shot 41 of 60.  She received a 0 out of 10 possible points for the error.  Earning a 9 or 10, could have meant a top-15 finish most likely.

Ultimately, it’s the last 19 shots though that truly showcased all that Scherer gave the sport.  She could have easily mailed it in and been unnerved by the whole thing, nobody would have been surprised.  But this is Scherer we’re talking about.  The same person who overcame a fractured elbow in London to finish seventh in Air Rifle.  The same person who shook off doctors concern after one failed back surgery and another successful one too.

So, instead she rebounded on the very next shot with a 10.8, near perfect.  There were 37 competitors on the line Thursday, and Scherer was one of just seven athletes to record a string (10 shots) of 97/100 or higher in the standing position on the day.  What makes Scherer’s most remarkable is that she did so on the final 10 shots of her career – after getting a 0.  After a zero, she ran off eleven 10s over her final 19 shots. That’s the Scherer way and that’s how we’ll remember her.

The two-time Olympian can hold her head high though knowing she made two Olympic Finals while winning two World Cup medals and earning two individual and two team NCAA titles during her career. She’ll be missed.

“I don’t think I’ve fully processed it completely,” Scherer admitted, about shooting her last match.  “For me, it’s been really cool to come back from two surgeries and to represent my country again. It has been the greatest honor. I put up a good fight today, it just wasn’t necessarily what I wanted.”

As for what’s next, Scherer had this to say:

“Obviously, I’m going to have to find something that will give me that little competing edge. One thing that I want to get into is ballroom dancing. For me, that’s always been one of my passions. I did it a lot in college, but I’ve had to let it go somewhat because of all my back surgeries. Then I want to do something else in the shooting sports whether that’s something with pistols or something with shotgun, just something a little different and challenging. Something different, but where I can keep that competitive edge.”

“I want to stay involved with USA Shooting and shooting sports as a whole,” she added. “It has all been a huge part of my life, and they’ve given so much to me.”

Today’s Final turned into a stage of success for Germany’s Barbara Engleder who led the kneeling position, and finished the prone position in third with 408.8 points, before climbing back atop of the scoreboard at the end of the standing series. Engleder had to fight off China’s Binbin Zhang and two-time Olympic gold medalist Li Du, who would eventually earn the silver and bronze medals.  Zhang nearly overtook Engleder on the final shot after firing a 10.4 to Engleder’s 9.0, but alas, Engleder escaped with a by .2 points. It is the second medal of these Games for Du, having earned silver in Air Rifle behind American Ginny Thrasher.

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