By Debbie Gregory.
Today marks the opening of the 2016 Olympic Games from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. More than 10,500 athletes from 206 countries are scheduled to take part.
For Sgt.1st Class Michael McPhail, participating in the games is his shot at personal redemption. McPhail, who is with the United States Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) came in 9th place in his first Olympics in London in 2012. He began shooting at the age of 16.
He has won three gold medals in international events in 2015, thus securing his spot on the U.S. Shooting Olympic Team. He will compete in men’s 50M rifle prone on August 12th .
Three other USAMU soldiers, Sgt. 1st Class Glenn Eller, Sgt. 1st Class Josh Richmond and Specialist Daniel Lowe , will also proudly represent the U.S. at the games.
The talented group has a shot at adding to the 24 Olympic shooting sports medals won by USAMU soldiers in past games. Eller, the most experienced member of the team, won a gold medal in the 2008 games in Beijing.
“I’ve also been way down before so I know both sides of the spectrum,” Eller said.
Although the men are hoping to win big at the Olympics, they have already racked up some medals this year: McPhail won the gold medal at the Rifle/Pistol National Championships, Eller won a bronze for double trap at the World Cup in Rio and Richmond won a gold medal in double trap at the World Cup San Marino.
McPhail no longer is an Olympic rookie, and hopefully will not have the freshman jitters that may have contributed to his disappointing finish in the last Olympics. He enters this year’s game as the No. 1 prone rifle shooter in the world.
“The U.S. delegation has 550 athletes, of those how many going to win medals? How many are supposed to or favored to win medals?” McPhail said. “A lot of people go and it’s a great thing to experience, but it’s a totally different thing to go there and be expected to win.”