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Uptagraffts head to Olympics together

Olympians Eric and Sandra Uptagrafft (Courtesy photo)
Olympians Eric and Sandra Uptagrafft (Courtesy photo)

Eric Uptagrafft has known for more than a year that he was going to the London Olympics this summer. He’s delighted to have some company.

Uptagrafft, who was born in Spokane and graduated from University High, earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic team in men’s 50-meter rifle prone by accumulating enough points during 2010-11 qualifying events.

Uptagrafft’s wife, Sandra, clinched an Olympic berth Tuesday at the U.S. Team Trials in Fort Benning, Ga., finishing first in women’s 25-meter pistol with 2,102.5 points, just in front of Teresa Meyer (2,099.7) and four-time Olympian Libby Callahan (2,098.8).

“I was back there hyperventilating, freaking out. Thank goodness she was calm, cool and collected,” said Eric, who has been ranked as high as No. 2 in the world in his event. “She’s been working at it for so many years. It’s just a relief for both of us to finally make it.”

It’s been a long journey for both. Eric made the 1996 Olympic team, placing 30th in Atlanta. Sandra failed to qualify in four previous attempts.

“In 2000, we were both favored to make the team and neither one of us made it,” said Eric, who is an instructor/shooter for the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit. “We were both in the military and one of the matches we shoot in is CISM in Ankara, Turkey, and it’s basically the military world championships. As a consolation prize we both went to that and that’s where we met for the first time.”

They’re believed to be the first married couple to make the 2012 U.S. team.

They’re stationed in Fort Benning and live in nearby Phenix City, Ala. After competing in their events, they’ll celebrate their 12th wedding anniversary Aug. 5 while still in London.

“I’m exhausted, but I am pretty excited to be joining Eric,” said Sandra, whose victory in sport pistol Tuesday also allows her to compete in air pistol in London. “The competition was close all the way to the end. We couldn’t ask for a better situation.”