Soldier Wins Gold Medal, Sets Olympic Record

By Mary Beth Vorwerk and Tim Hipps
American Forces Press Service

BEIJING, Aug. 12, 2008 - Army Spc. Glenn Eller won the gold medal in double trap shooting at the Summer Olympics here today, setting an Olympic record with a total score of 190.

Eller's teammate, Army Spc. Jeff Holguin, finished fourth. Both soldiers are members of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, based at Fort Benning, Ga.

Eller went into the final round leading by four shots and hit 45 out of 50 targets to win the first shooting gold for Team USA in Beijing.

Eller is a three-time Olympian. He finished 15th in 2000 and 17th in the last summer Olympic Games. He claimed the gold medal at the 2007 Korea World Cup as well as the 2007 World Cup Final. He also took the Silver Medal at the 2008 "Good Luck Beijing" International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup. Holguin claimed the silver medal in men's double trap at the 2007 Pan-American Games and won the bronze medal at the World Cup USA in May.

In the men's 10-meter air rifle event over the weekend, two-time Olympian and U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit member Sgt. 1st Class Jason Parker placed 23rd with a total score of 591, while 19-year old U.S. Military Academy Cadet Stephen Scherer took the 27th spot with 590.

Parker will compete Aug. 17, the final day of the shooting competition, in the men's 50-meter three-position rifle, his second event of the 2008 Olympic Games.

Along with double trap, shooters are competing today in the men's 50-meter free pistol event at the Beijing Shooting Range Hall.

Sgt. 1st Class Daryl Szarenski, a three-time Olympian, will compete for the United States in men's free pistol. Szarenski claimed the bronze medal at the "Good Luck Beijing" 2008 International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup in April, the first World Cup medal won by a U.S. shooter in men's free pistol since 2000.

World Class Athlete Program shooter Staff Sgt. Keith Sanderson, 33, of San Antonio, is scheduled to compete Aug. 16 in the 25-meter rapid-fire pistol event.

Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Elizabeth "Libby" Callahan, 56, of Columbia, S.C., will make her fourth Olympic appearance in the women's sport pistol event tomorrow.

Army Marksmanship Unit shotgun shooter Pfc. Vincent Hancock, 19, of Eatonton, Ga., set a world record in every skeet-shooting event at age 18. He will toe the line Aug. 16 in Beijing.

U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program Greco-Roman heavyweight wrestler Staff Sgt. Dremiel Byers will compete in the 264.5-pound weight class Aug. 14.

Byers, a world champion in 2002, is accompanied in China by World Class Athlete Program teammate and training partner Spc. Timothy Taylor, whom Byers defeated in the Olympic team trials.

"I was at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, and Glenn Eller was in Houston shooting by himself," said Holguin, who joined the marksmanship unit in the spring of 2007. "All of us are now shooting together in the marksmanship unit with great competition day in and out among us, and it's just improved all of our games.

"The hardest part of this Olympic experience is waiting for the day to get here," he continued. "I wanted to compete at the highest level of clay target shooting. To do that, I had to commit myself to the sport. The U.S. Army and the USAMU have given me the necessary resources to compete and win at the level required to win an Olympic medal."

As Holguin makes his Olympic debut, Eller, who joined the Army in 2006, is competing in this third Olympics. He placed 17th in 2004 and 12th in 2000.

"Growing up, I always wanted to be an Olympian," Eller said. "The Olympics were greater in every aspect than I had anticipated, both in highs and lows. The emotions involved are so great because of the years of training that go into that one day of competition."

World Class Athlete Program boxing coach retired Staff Sgt. Basheer Abdullah, the U.S. head coach in the Athens games, will serve as a technical advisor for Team USA.

WCAP boxer Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Downs won Team USA's light-heavyweight spot at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Houston but did not get the weight class qualified to compete in Beijing. He made the trip to China to serve as a training partner. WCAP fencer Spc. Cody Nagengast also is serving as a training partner for Team USA's squad.

(Mary Beth Vorwerk works with Shooting USA. Tim Hipps works for the U.S. Army Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command.)

*Related Sites:*
Special Report: Military Olympians  [ ]
Soldier Wins Gold Medal, Sets Olympic Record [ ]