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Cincinnati's Xavier University has graduate competing on U.S. Olympic shooting team
by Chad D. Baus
The Cincinnati Enquirer reported recently that Jason Parker, a 1996 Xavier graduate, has earned a spot on his fourth U.S. Olympic shooting team and will compete in the 50-meter Rifle Three Position event Aug.6 at the Royal Artillery Barracks in London.
The seven-time All-American is hoping to medal for the first time.
"I've said the last three times were a charm, too," Parker said Friday, laughing. "Each Games has had a different challenge or something to overcome. This is no different. At the same time, I feel more confidence and have more experience entering this Olympics."
Sgt. 1st Class Parker, 37, works in the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit in Fort Benning, Ga., where he enhances others’ combat-readiness through marksmanship training.
Parker didn't have to go far for the Olympic Trials, which were held over the weekend at Fort Benning, but he wasn't assured the lone free spot in Team USA's 50-meter Rifle Three Position discipline, either.
Although the U.S. shooting team comprises 22 athletes, Parker said only two compete in that particular division, and Matt Emmons had claimed one spot through previous competition.
Rain and target malfunctions abbreviated the last day of the Trials but Parker's comprehensive steadiness in the positions – prone (lying down), standing and kneeling – paved the way for his first-place, 3124.1-point finish.
"It was exciting," Parker said. "Going into the tryouts, we had a lot of younger shooters that have been shooting really well the past couple years.
"I knew it was going to be challenging."
The Enquirer article goes on to report that that former Xavier coach Alan Joseph wasn't surprised by Parker’s success.
Parker, he said, "is tremendous under pressure when necessary."
Joseph spent years coaching Parker after the highly recruited shooter from Omaha arrived at Xavier.
Parker quickly launched a record-setting career worthy of the university's Athletic Hall of Fame.
Parker also met his wife Andrea in the Musketeers' program, long before it was discontinued in 2005.
Parker qualified for his first Olympics in Sydney in 2000 and finished fifth in men's 10-meter Air Rifle.
He placed eighth in the same event in 2004 in Greece.
In 2008 in Beijing, Parker was 23rd in 10-meter Air Rifle and 22nd in 50-meter Rifle Three Position.
Fast forward to London, where Parker will fire 120 shots in 40-shot increments, starting with the prone position.
He'll attempt to hit targets that are a maximum 10 points with a .22 rifle from a distance of 50 meters.
Joseph said the top eight advance to a 10-shot final to determine medal winners. He believes Parker could be among them.
"He has shot all over the world in these last 12 years," Joseph said. "He knows what it takes."
"There are a lot of extracurriculars that happen at the Olympics with media distractions and sightseeing,” Parker is quoted as saying.
"Since I've been to a couple of these before, I'll know what to expect."
The Enquirer reports that Parker's wife and children, as well as his parents, will be making the trip to London to cheer him on.
No doubt there will be plenty of fans in the Buckeye State cheering him from this side of the pond as well!
Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.