Soldier Wins Pan Am Games Gold Medal in 10-meter Air Rifle
Sgt. 1st Class Jason Parker (center) of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning, Ga., wins a gold medal in the 10-meter air rifle event July 15 at XV Pan American Games Rio 2007 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Sgt. 1st Class Parker is flanked by silver medalist Matt Rawlings (left) of Wharton, Texas, and bronze medalist Roberto Jose Elias Orozco (right) of Mexico.

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (Army News Service, July 16, 2007) - Two-time Olympian Sgt. 1st Class Jason Parker won a gold medal in the men's 10-meter air rifle event Sunday in XV Pan American Games Rio 2007 at the Deodoro Sports Complex.

Sgt. 1st Class Parker tallied a Pan Am Games record of 695.9 points, eclipsing the mark of 692.5 set by Canada's Angel Valarte at the 2003 Pan Am Games in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Matt Rawlings of Wharton, Tex., won the silver medal with 694.2 points. Mexico's Jose Luis Elias Orozco took the bronze with a 690.9 total.

The U.S. teammates were tied with a Pan Am Games record of 594 points after the qualification rounds. Sgt. 1st Class Parker prevailed over Mr. Rawlings in the 10-shot finals, 101.8-100.2.

Sgt. 1st Class Parker, 33, a 10-year Army veteran from Omaha, Neb., is one of the most highly decorated international rifle shooters with the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning, Ga. His victory is a significant step along the road to Beijing, China, for the 2008 Olympic Games.

"It's great to have a win here at the Pan American Games," Sgt. 1st Class Parker said. "This is a very prestigious event with an Olympic-style atmosphere. It is a tough competition and we use it to get ready for the Olympics.

"This whole spring was geared towards Beijing. The last 18 months (prior to the Olympics) are always about the final touches because you can't be going into next season still looking for answers. You have to be performing by next season so you can get your peak goal at the Olympic Games."

With Team USA's two Olympic quota slots already secured for the event, Sgt. 1st Class Parker was relaxed and focused throughout the competition here.

"It was kind of an up-and-down type of competition," he said. "I started off really, really strong, and the middle and later parts of it wasn't bad, but it wasn't great."

Sgt. 1st Class Parker closed with shots of 10.5, 10.4, 10.4, 10.3, 10.7 and 10.4.

"My last six shots were really good," he said. "They saved it for me."

Sgt. 1st Class Parker's recent training has been focused on the 50-meter rifle 3-position event, scheduled for July 19.

"The scores are still there in air gun; I know I can shoot them," he said. "But I've been spending a little more time on the small board. That's where I can see all my effort going right now. I feel real confident of walking out of here with two gold medals."

Sgt. 1st Class Parker enlisted in the Army in January 1997. After completing basic and infantry training, he was assigned to USAMU in April 1997.

Ten years later, he's a Pan Am Games champion.

Along the way, Sgt. 1st AfaEUR!lass Parker was selected as USA Shooting's 2003 Male Rifle Shooter of the Year. In 2002, he was a world champion and World Cup gold medalist. In both 2001 and 2002, he was named the Military Marksmanship Unit's Soldier of the Year, and in 2001 he was named Army Athlete of the Year.

"I want to say thanks to my Family and the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit," he said. "Without them, I wouldn't be able to do any of this."

(Tim Hipps works for the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command Public Affairs.)

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