ANNOUNCES 2002 SHOOTERS OF THE YEAR
Colorado Springs- USA Shooting, the national governing body for Olympic shooting in the USA, recently named Matt Emmons and Kim Rhode as the Male and Female Shooting Athletes of the Year for 2002.
Emmons, a University of Alaska-Fairbanks senior in accounting from Browns Mills, New Jersey, completed an incredible competitive season in 2002, probably the best by any American male shooting sports athlete in recent decades. Emmons began by winning the NCAA smallbore rifle title in March. In May, he won a gold medal and an Olympic quota place at the ISSF World Cup in Atlanta in the 3x40 rifle event. In June, he came close to sweeping the US National Championship in Atlanta, where he won two gold medals and one silver in the three men's rifle events. At the ISSF World Shooting Championship in Lahti, Finland, in July, he won an Individual World Championship in men's prone rifle and helped the USA team win silver and bronze medals in men's 3x40 rifle and air rifle with his top ten finishes in those events. He crowned his 2002 competition season by winning a gold medal in men's 3x40 rifle and a silver medal in men's prone rifle at the ISSF World Cup Final in Munich.
The significance of Emmons' 2003 competition record can best be measured by understanding that a World Individual Championship is second only to an Olympic gold medal in shooting world prestige and that the ISSF World Cup Final is the annual "champion-of-champions" match that brings the very best shooters from the year's World Cups and World Championship together for a season finale showcase competition.
Kim Rhode is the Female Shooting Athlete of the Year for 2002. The two-time Olympic medallist from El Monte, California, Rhode kicked off her season with a gold in double trap and a silver in skeet at the US National Championship in Colorado Springs. She followed that with a sixth place finish in double trap at the ISSF World Shooting Championship in Lahti. Rhode's solid shooting also helped anchor the USA women's squad to a team silver medal in that event in Finland. She finished off her season with another victory in women's double trap at the Fall Selection Matches at Fort Benning.
In the individual shooting disciplines, the Male Pistol Athlete of the Year is Daryl Szarenski of Saginaw, Michigan. A 2000 US Olympian who shoots for the US Army Marksmanship Unit, Szarenski kicked off his 2002 season with a gold medal in free pistol and pair of bronze medals in air pistol and center-fire pistol at the US National Championships. Szarenski made the US World Shooting Championship Team in four events and won an Olympic quota for the USA in men's air pistol in Lahti by placing seventh in that event. A gold medal in free pistol and a silver in air at the Fall Selection matches capped his season.
Libby Callahan of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, was named as the Female Pistol Athlete of the Year. Callahan is a two-time US Olympian and Washington, DC, police department captain. She won an Olympic quota slot and a boosted the USA team to a bronze medal finish by placing seventh in women's sport pistol at the World Shooting Championships in Finland. Winning a silver medal in sport pistol and bronze in air pistol at the Fall Selection match was the finale to her season.
Sharing honors with Emmons as the Male Rifle Athlete of the Year is Jason Parker of Cusseta, Georgia. A 2000 US Olympian and the former world record holder in men's air rifle, Parker shoots for USAMU. Like Emmons, he began his 2002 season with a gold medal and an Olympic quota slot win in air rifle at the Atlanta World Cup. Parker followed with another air rifle win at the US National Championship and took the silver behind Emmons in men's 3x40 rifle. Parker made the USA World Championship Team in three events. In Finland, Parker also won an Individual World Championship in men's air rifle. His outstanding scores helped the USA win a team silver medal in 300m standard rifle and a team bronze in air rifle. Parker ended his year by winning gold medals in both air rifle and 3x40 rifle at the Fall Selection match. In most years, the overall performances by either Parker or Male Shotgun Athlete of the Year Todd Graves, would have been great enough to win overall Athlete of the Year honors, but in 2002 they could not overshadow Emmons' tremendous accomplishments.
US Olympic Training Center resident athlete Emily Caruso is the Female Rifle Athlete of the Year. A native of Fairfield, Connecticut, Caruso won the gold medal in women's air rifle and a silver medal in prone rifle at the US National Championship. She followed that with a fourth place finish that won a 2004 Olympic Games quota for the USA in women's air rifle at the World Shooting Championship in Finland. A gold in air rifle and a bronze in 3x20 rifle at the Fall Selection matches completed her competition year.
Adam Saathoff, an EMT firefighter from Sierra Vista, Arizona, is the Male Running Target Athlete of the Year. The two-time Olympian began his competition year with a silver in 10m 30+30 at the US National Championship. Saathoff surprised the shooting world by winning a bronze medal in the 10m running target event at the 1998 World Championship in Barcelona. At this year's World Championship, he established himself as one of the top running target shooters in the world by winning two bronze medals in 10m 30+30 and 10m mixed run events. His third place 30+30 finish also won the USA a quota place for Athens Olympics in 2004. No female athlete was named in the running target discipline this year.
The 2002 Male Shotgun Athlete of the Year crown goes to Todd Graves of Laurel, Mississippi. A three-time US Olympian and skeet bronze medallist in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Graves currently shoots for USAMU. He began his season by winning a silver medal in skeet at the Sydney World Cup. He followed that with a silver medal in skeet at the US National Championship. Graves' 11th place finish helped the USA to a skeet team silver at the World Shooting Championship. In the Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic World Cup that followed the World Championship, Graves won the skeet gold medal and an Olympic Games quota for the USA. Graves capped his competition year with his gold medal victory at the shooting world's champion-of-champions match, the Shotgun World Cup Final in Lonato, Italy. 2002 Female Shotgun Athlete of the Year honors go to Kim Rhode.
The U. S. Olympic Committee has set a goal for USA Shooting and the USA shooters of winning six medals in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. This represents a huge step up, considering that USA shooters have not won more than three medals in any Olympic Games since the boycotted Olympics of 1984. The 2002 Athletes of the Year, however, took a bold stride forward in international excellence. In some of the toughest competition ever seen for Male Athlete of the Year honors, Jason Parker, Todd Graves, and Matt Emmons had nine medals between them as they accounted for two individual World Championships; three World Cup gold medals and one silver and two gold medals and one silver in the prestigious World Cup Final. Their performances, together with the outstanding performances of the other Male and Female Athletes of the Year demonstrate that the USOC's lofty goal for Athens is not out of reach.
The CMP extends its sincere congratulations to the USA's 2002 Shooting Athletes of the Year and wishes them and all USA Olympic Team contenders the very best in their preparations for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
Matt Emmons, a University of Alaska senior from Browns Mills, New Jersey is the 2002 Male Shooting Athlete of the Year.
Kim Rhode, a double trap shooter and two-time Olympic medallist from El Monte, California is the 2002 Female Shooting Athlete of the Year.
Libby Callahan, a Washington, DC police captain, was the 2002 Female Pistol Athlete of the Year.
Jason Parker, a U. S. Army Staff Sergeant, was the 2002 Male Rifle Athlete of the Year.
Emily Caruso, an Olympic Training Center Resident Athlete from Colorado Springs, was the Female Rifle Athlete of the Year.
Adam Saathoff, an EMT firefighter from Sierra Vista, Arizona was the 2002 Male Running Target Athlete of the Year.
Todd Graves, a Sergeant First Class assigned to the Army Marksmanship Unit, was the 2002 Male Shotgun Athlete of the Year.