Army reservist on path to Olympics takes gold in shooting event at Pan American Games
By SCOTT WYLAND | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 30, 2019
An American soldier won gold in the women’s 50-meter, three-position rifle shooting at the Pan American Games, making her a strong contender in the 2020 Olympics.
1st Lt. Sarah Beard, 28, an Army reservist, came from behind to grab first place Sunday in the competition in Lima, Peru. Teammate Ginny Thrasher won bronze, putting two American women on the podium.
“Excited for a first place today,” wrote Beard, a Danville, Ind. native, on her Facebook page. “Ups and downs, but taking in all the lessons that come along with it. Also congrats to Ginny Thrasher for bronze. Mission accomplished.”
Contestants shot a 5.56 mm rifle from prone, standing and kneeling positions at targets 50 meters away.
Beard started strong in the qualifying round, nailing a perfect 400 score in the prone, and moved on to the finals with the second-best score behind Puerto Rico’s Yarimar Mercado.
In the finals, Beard dropped to third place after the kneeling portion, then rebounded to second place after shooting from the prone position. In the standing position, she battled Cuba’s Eglys De La Cruz in a tight match.
Beard’s 454.9 score bested De La Cruz by 0.7 points.
Beard’s win last year in the Championship of the Americas had already landed her a spot, known as a quota place, in next year’s Olympics, which will be held in Tokyo.
That left open two quota places in the event. Thrasher seized one with her third-place finish, and silver medalist De La Cruz took the other.
“A bronze medal has never felt so much like gold to me,” Thrasher said in a statement. “Any day I can represent my country on the podium is a great day and being able to win a quota for Team USA to compete in Tokyo is an achievement I’m proud of.”