USAMU Soldiers win automatic berths on U.S. Olympic Team
By Brenda Rolin, USAMU PAO
Fort Benning, GA -(AmmoLand.com)- Two Soldiers from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) are headed to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro after earning automatic berths on the Olympic Team this month.
Sgt. 1st Class Michael McPhail, a 2012 Olympian won his seat for men’s 50-meter prone rifle, and 2008 Olympic gold medalist Staff Sgt. Glenn Eller won his for men’s double trap. McPhail, who is the No. 1 men’s 50-meter prone shooter in the world, won a gold medal—his third this year—and a U.S. Olympic Team berth Sept. 3 at the 2015 International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup Final Rifle/Pistol in Munich.
The nomination for the Olympic Team is McPhail’s second bid for an Olympic medal. The Darlington, Wis., native finished ninth in the men’s 50-meter prone event during the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
“I’m glad I shot well,” McPhail said. “The goal was to make the Olympic Team.”
McPhail said the Army provides many advantages for its athletes to ensure they succeed.
“First, we have a very good coach,” he said. “Sergeant First Class (Jason) Parker is, without a doubt, the very best coach I have ever had in any sport in any time of my life—that’s a huge bonus. Next, the way our team operates between Sergeant First Class Parker and Sergeant First Class (Walter) Craig, the goal is winning Olympic medals.”
“Then, the Custom Firearms Shop is second to none. It’s a confidence booster when you go to the line and know that you have the best equipment in the world. And it all comes down from the command group whose intent is to win Olympic gold medals, and that falls all the way down to the Soldier.”
McPhail said he is going to take some time off in the next few weeks while he and his wife await the arrival of their second child, but will start training again by December.
Eller, currently ranked No. 1 in the world for men’s double trap, earned his seat on the Olympic Team Sept. 14 at the 2015 ISSF Shotgun World Championships in Lonato, Italy, where he placed sixth.
“It was an amazing feeling, knowing all the hard work paid off for my fifth nomination,” Eller said. “The automatic berth gives me the time and ability to wrap my head around competing in another Olympics. My priorities will be on winning, not just making the team.”
This is the fifth time Eller has been on an Olympic Team, and he is the only male American shotgun competitor who has achieved this distinction, according to officials from USA Shooting, the organization chartered by the United States Olympic Committee as the national governing body for the sport of shooting. The organization implements and manages developmental programs and sanctions events at the local, state, regional and national levels.
Eller, of Katy, Texas, won a gold medal Aug. 11 for men’s double trap at the 2015 International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup Rifle/Pistol/Shotgun in Gabala, Azerbaijan, that took place Aug. 6-16. Eller is also a two-time World Champion and has medaled at 14 World Cups.
“The Army has given me the structure, support and opportunity to train at and compete at the highest level,” he said.
Eller will head to the 2015 ISSF World Cup Final Shotgun in Nicosia, Cyprus, Oct. 15- 21. After that, he said he will plan his year around peaking during the 2016 Olympic Games so he will have the most confidence in winning.
Athletes who want to compete in the Olympics must qualify in their shooting sport discipline to participate on their country’s Olympic Team. Athletes have two ways to qualify.
Shooting athletes may earn automatic berths through high finishes in international world shooting sport events in the year prior to the Games or win in the Olympic Trials, which are a few months prior to the Games.
All Olympic Team nominations are subject to the approval of the U.S. Olympic Committee.