|Monday, August 4
Loper, who is blind in one eye, captures gold
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Collyn Loper has something special to bring back to show her high school friends in Alabama: a gold medal from the Pan American Games.
The 16-year-old junior, of Indian Springs, won the women's trap shooting event Monday, also securing an Athens Olympics berth for the U.S. team. Loper, who is right-handed but shoots left-handed because she is blind in her right eye, finished with 87 points, three more than Canada's Cynthia Mayer.
Loper entered the final round with a four-point lead, although she wasn't aware of it.
"I never like to know what my scores are until I am finished,'' she said. "I kind of assumed that I was ahead by three or four. When I heard people clapping, I thought, 'Maybe I just won.'''
It was quite an achievement for an athlete just making her way into the senior ranks. She will compete at the world championships in Egypt, and there isn't likely to be more stress in that event.
Loper showed her maturity in handling delays in the first two rounds when Canada's Susan Nattrass gun malfunctioned.
"That can throw off everyones rhythm,'' said U.S. shotgun coach Lloyd Woodhouse.
It didn't affect Loper, who hit her first target following each stoppage.
"Instead of going back and sitting with everyone else, I went and sat off to the side by myself,'' Loper said of the interruptions. "I just tried to not pay attention to it.''
After clinching the gold with two shots remaining, her coach and teammates rushed to congratulate her. Then she did what any good teenager would: Loper called home with the news.