Sgt. 1st Class Glen Eller laughs when he sees headlines prophesying disaster for the 2016 games in Rio.
“I’m immune to it,” Eller said.
The New York Times recently ran an extended piece forecasting a “catastrophe” due to security concerns, the Zika epidemic and state of the country’s athletic facilities.
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Hundreds of stories have been written expressing similar worries, but the five-time Olympian has seen this all before.
“Every Olympic games they come up something,” Eller said. “Even if there was something crazy wrong down there I wouldn’t know by this point because every Olympics they cry wolf and nothing happens.”
Sgt. 1st Class Josh Richmond dismisses concerns about Rio’s preparedness in similar fashion. The Pennsylvania native spent time competing in the area where the Olympics will be held just three months ago for the World Cup. He also travelled to Rio De Janeiro for the 2007 Pan American games.
“I can speak first hand of the area,” Richmond said. “It’s a familiar place.”
Richmond’s experience combined with his confidence in the United States Olympic committee has eliminated any concerns he had about the upcoming games.”
“You have to trust in your team and coaching staff,” Richmond said. “The United States Olympic committee does a great job of maintaining the village and checking on things prior to us getting there. I’m not real worried about it.”
While Sgt. 1st Class Michael McPhail is having his family sit this Olympic trip out, many factors went into the decision.
“We have two kids, one is nine months old and another is five. Logistically it’s very difficult to get everyone there,” McPhail said.
McPhail, last year’s USA Shooting rifle athlete of the year and No.1-ranked Prone rifle shooter in the world, also wants to keep his focus on the competition coming off what he described as disappointing ninth place finish in the 2012 London games
“The biggest thing is Rio isn’t a vacation,” McPhail said. “It’s a business trip. I have a lot to accomplish.”
After months of preparation for all the soldiers, the general feeling among the group is one Eller succinctly summed up.
“It’s time they just let us go enjoy the games,” Eller said.