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US has plenty of medal prospects in smaller sports

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FILE - In this Nov. 6, 2010, file photo, Mariel Zagunis, of the U.S., reacts as she defeats Ukraine's Olga Kharlan in the women's single sabre final at the fencing World Championships in Paris. Zagunis is seeking her third consecutive Olympic gold medal i

FILE - In this Nov. 6, 2010, file photo, Mariel Zagunis, of the U.S., reacts as she defeats Ukraine’s Olga Kharlan in the women’s single sabre final at the fencing World Championships in Paris. Zagunis is seeking her third consecutive Olympic gold medal in saber, and the men’s team wants to improve on its silver finish in Beijing.

Christophe Ena, File, Associated Press

Matt Emmons is a cancer survivor hoping to atone for a pair of costly blunders in Olympic shooting events. Teenager Race Imboden is seeking the first men's foil medal for the U.S. since 1960. World No. 1 Brady Ellison is hoping for the country's first archery medal in 12 years.

Check out the smaller sports on the Olympic docket, and there are plenty of compelling stories and medal prospects on the American side.

Glenn Eller and Vincent Hancock are hoping to defend their Olympic shooting golds from 2008. Shotgun specialist Kim Rhode could become the first American athlete to medal in five straight Olympics. Married shooters Sandra and Eric Uptagrafft are set to represent the U.S. in different disciplines.

World No. 1 Mariel Zagunis is seeking her third consecutive Olympic gold medal in saber, and the men's team wants to improve on its silver finish in Beijing.

Medal chances are slimmer in field hockey, triathlon, modern pentathlon and badminton, but the Americans could deliver some surprises.

The U.S. has been without a team handball entry since 1996, when men's and women's teams automatically qualified for the Atlanta Games through their host country status.

Here is a closer look at a handful of the smaller sports on the London schedule:


The U.S. is poised to add to its Olympic-best 103 shooting medals, including 50 golds. The London team, subject to trials, is expected to include four Olympic champions.

Eller won the double trap and Hancock took the skeet competition in Beijing, making the most of the knowledge they gained in the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit. Rhode won gold in 1996 and 2004. Emmons earned the 50m rifle prone gold medal in 2004 and the silver in 2008, but is perhaps best known for shooting at the wrong target in Athens and his rifle accidentally going off in Beijing — robbing him of two more gold medals.

Emmons also was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 and had his thyroid removed, making him even more of sentimental favorite this time around.

Other medal hopefuls include; Joshua Richmond, the world champion in double trap, Jason Turner, a 2008 bronze medalist in air pistol and Eric Uptagrafft, who was ranked No. 3 in 50m rifle prone. Sandra Uptagrafft will compete in pistol.


U.S. fencers won six medals in Beijing and could exceed that number this summer. The United States — not Italy, not France, not Russia — is the only country that qualified the maximum 16 fencers for the London Olympics.

Zagunis is still going strong eight years after she won in Athens for America's first fencing gold medal in 100 years. The 19-year-old Imboden, hailing from Brooklyn, N.Y., is ranked No. 4 in the world and won six gold medals in individual or team competitions last year. Lee Kiefer, the youngest member of the team at 17, snapped a long drought for U.S. women when she medaled in foil at the 2011 World Championships.

The U.S. also could medal in a couple of the team competitions. Tim Morehouse and James Williams are the key players on the saber team that won silver in Beijing, and the men's foil group handed Italy its first loss in more than a year earlier this season. The women's epee group is coming off a strong performance in the World Cup.


The U.S. is without a medal in archery since 2000, but that should come to an end this summer.

Ellison is a strong contender for top spot on the podium in London. He won the World Cup final in 2010 and 2011. Last year, he became the first archer in the world to win three consecutive World Cup stages.

A top-three finish for the American team of Ellison, Jake Kaminski and Jacob Wukie is a more challenging task. South Korea's men's team has won three consecutive gold medals.

First-time Olympian Miranda Leek, ranked seventh in the world and just 19, has an outside shot in the women's individual competition. She won an individual event and helped the U.S. to a victory at a world ranking stop in Phoenix, and she placed fourth at a World Cup stage competition earlier this year.

Two-time Olympian Jennifer Nichols and four-time Olympian Khatuna Lorig also qualified for the U.S.

The American men have won only two medals (both in Sydney in 2000) since winning two golds in 1996. No U.S. archer made it past the quarterfinals in Beijing.


Tony Gunawan is set to compete in his first Olympics since he became a U.S. citizen last year. He was part of Indonesia's gold medal-winning doubles team in 2000, and won the world doubles title in 2001. He then immigrated to the U.S. and won America's first world title with Howard Bach in 2005.

Gunawan, of West Covina, Calif., will team with San Francisco-native Bach again this summer. Bach is competing in his third games, and a quarterfinals appearance would be a good showing for the duo.

The only other qualifier for the U.S. in badminton is Rena Wang, of Arcadia, Calif., who is ranked 57th and will compete in the women's singles in her Olympic debut.


The U.S. women's team is part of a loaded Group B for the London Olympics which also includes gold medal-favorite Argentina, former Olympic champs Germany and Australia, plus New Zealand and South Africa. So the Americans aren't expected to contend for a medal, but they do have a surprising showing last year for inspiration.

The U.S. punched its Olympic ticket with a 4-2 victory over Argentina in the Pan American Games final in October. It was the country's first victory over Argentina since 1987. Argentina had won each of the previous six Pan American competitions.

The 2008 Beijing squad finished eighth, and seven women will make their second Olympic appearance. Midfielder Katelyn Falgowksi was the only American to make the world all-star team last year.


Margaux Isaksen is seeking a rare medal for the U.S. in modern pentathlon, one of the more obscure Olympic competitions. But she had mononucleosis earlier this year and it affected her stamina in training and competition.

Isaksen was 16 when she finished 21st in Beijing and showed improvement by winning back-to-back events in October and qualifying for the final round in every World Cup event she entered, except for one in April during her recovery from mono.

U.S. Army Spc. Dennis Bowsher might be the only other American in the event unless the U.S. gets spots from a reallocation from other countries in mid-June. The 29-year-old Dallas native is 44th in the world, and qualified for the London Games with a fourth-place overall finish in last year's Pan American Games in Mexico.


Gwen Jorgensen leads the American group for the triathlon, which has yielded a lone bronze medal for the U.S. since the event was added to the Olympics in 2000.

Jorgensen, a collegiate swimmer and runner who completed her first triathlon in March 2010, finished second at an International Triathlon Union World Championship Series event in London last August — on the same course that will be used in the Olympics. It was the best-ever finish for a U.S. woman and qualified her for London Games.

Sarah Groff finished third in the ITU rankings last year for the first-ever series podium finish by a U.S. athlete, and Laura Bennett, who finished fourth in Beijing, also could shine in London.

The men's prospects are not as bright. Hunter Kemper is back for his fourth Olympics, while 28-year-old Manual Huerta, who fled Cuba in 1997 and became a U.S. citizen when he was 20, is in the games for the first time. Kemper and Huerta rank No. 27 and No. 35, respectively.

AP Sports Writer Foster Niumata in London contributed to this report.

Medal projections:




Gold: Brady Ellison, USA

Silver: Im Dong-hyun, Korea

Bronze: Oh Jin-Hyek, Korea


Gold: Korea

Silver: United States

Bronze: France



Gold: Ki Bo Bae, Korea

Silver: Cheng Ming, China

Bronze: Denisse Van Lamoen, Chile


Gold: Korea

Silver: China

Bronze: India


Men's Singles

Gold: Lin Dan, China

Silver: Lee Chong Wei, Malaysia

Bronze: Chen Jin, China; Kenichi Tago, Japan

Women's Singles

Gold: Wang Yihan, China

Silver: Wang Xin, China

Bronze: Saina Nehwal, India; Juliane Schenk, Germany

Men's Doubles

Gold: Jung Jae-sung and Lee Yong-dae, South Korea

Silver: Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng, China

Bronze: Ko Sung-hyun and Yoo Yeon-seong, South Korea; Carsten Morgensen and Mathias Boe, Denmark

Women's Doubles

Gold: Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli, China

Silver: Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei, China

Bronze: Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung, South Korea; Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na, South Korea

Mixed Doubles

Gold: Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei, China

Silver: Xu Chen and Ma Jin, China

Bronze: Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir, Indonesia; Lee Yong-dae and Ha Jung-eun, South Korea




Gold: Nikolai Novosjolov, Estonia

Silver: Bas Verwijlen, Netherlands

Bronze: Paola Pizzo, Italy


Gold: Andrea Cassara', Italy

Silver: Valerio Aspromonte, Italy

Bronze: Giorgio Avola, Italy


Gold: Nicolas Limbach, Germany

Silver: Alexey Yakimenko, Russia

Bronze: Aldo Montano, Italy

Saber Team

Gold: Russia

Silver: Belarus

Bronze: Italy

Foil Team

Gold: Italy

Silver: China

Bronze: Germany



Gold: Sun Yujie, China

Silver: Ana Branza, Romania

Bronze: Li Na, China


Gold: Valentina Vezzali, Italy

Silver: Elisa Di Francisca, Italy

Bronze: Nam Hyun-Hee, Korea


Gold: Mariel Zagunis, USA

Silver: Sofya Velikaya, Russia

Bronze: Olga Kharlan, Ukraine

Foil Team

Gold: Italy

Silver: Russia

Bronze: Korea

Epee Team

Gold: Romania

Silver: Russia

Bronze: China



Gold: Australia

Silver: Netherlands

Bronze: Germany


Gold: Netherlands

Silver: Argentina

Bronze: England



Gold: France

Silver: Spain

Bronze: Denmark


Gold: Russia

Silver: Norway

Bronze: Denmark



Gold: Alistair Brownlee, Britain

Silver: Javier Gomez, Spain

Bronze: Jonathan Brownlee, Britain


Gold: Emma Moffatt, Australia

Silver: Helen Jenkins, Britain

Bronze: Sarah Groff, United States



Gold: Andrey Moiseyev, Russia

Silver: Aleksander Lesun, Russia

Bronze: Adam Marosi, Hungary


Gold: Amelie Caze, France

Silver: Mhairi Spence, Britain

Bronze: Lena Schoeneborn, Germany



50m Rifle 3 Positions

Gold: Niccolo Campriani, Italy

Silver: Matt Emmons, United States

Bronze: Jason Parker, United States

50m Rifle Prone

Gold: Sergei Martynov, Belarus

Silver: Wang Weiyi, China

Bronze: Marco de Nicolo, Italy

10m Air Rifle

Gold: Niccolo Campriani, Italy

Silver: Illia Charheika, Belarus

Bronze: Wang Tao, China

50m Pistol

Gold: Jin Jong-oh, South Korea

Silver: Damir Mikec, Serbia

Bronze: Vladimir Isakov, Russia

25m Rapid Fire Pistol

Gold: Alexei Klimov, Russia

Silver: Christian Reitz, Germany

Bronze: Zhang Jian, China

10m Air Pistol

Gold: Tan Zongliang, China

Silver: Jin Jong-oh, South Korea

Bronze: Yusuf Dikec, Turkey


Gold: Alexey Alipov, Russia

Silver: Rodolfo Vigano, Italy

Bronze: Massimo Fabbrizi, Italy

Double Trap

Gold: Joshua Richmond, United States

Silver: Peter Wilson, Britain

Bronze: William Chetcuti, Malta


Gold: Mikola Milchev, Ukraine

Silver: Tore Brovold, Norway

Bronze: Valeriy Shomin, Russia


50m Rifle 3 Positions

Gold: Barbara Engleder, Germany

Silver: Du Li, China

Bronze: Yi Siling, China

10m Air Rifle

Gold: Yi Siling, China

Silver: Katerina Emmons, Czech Republic

Bronze: Du Li, China

25m Pistol

Gold: Celine Goberville, France

Silver: Lenka Maruskova, Czech Republic

Bronze: Chen Ying, China

10m Air Pistol

Gold: Olena Kostevych, Ukraine

Silver: Lenka Maruskova, Czech Republic

Bronze: Zorana Arunovic, Serbia


Gold: Fatima Galvez, Spain

Silver: Elena Tkach, Russia

Bronze: Zuzana Stefecekova, Slovakia


Gold: Kimberly Rhode, United States

Silver: Danka Bartekova, Slovakia

Bronze: Wei Ning, China