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USAMU soldiers headed for 2016 Summer Games in Rio eager to compete on world’s biggest stage

The United States Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) has a storied Olympic history going back nearly six decades.

The four USAMU soldiers — Sgt. 1st Class Michael McPhail, Sgt. 1st Class Glenn Eller, Sgt. 1st Class Josh Richmond and Specialist Daniel Lowe — carrying on that tradition this year in the 2016 Summer Games gathered at Fort Benning last week before leaving for Rio.

The decorated group has a realistic shot at adding to the 24 Olympic shooting sports medals won by USAMU soldiers. 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 with a smile.

Eller is one of seven five-time Olympians on this year’s United States team while McPhail and Richmond will be competing in their second Olympic games.

All three soldiers have already won medals in international competition 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.

The USAMU team takes each and every event seriously, but speak with a special reverence describing their Olympic experience.

“You hear a lot of people say it’s just another day, just another match,” McPhail said. “Those people have never been to the Olympics. It is unlike any other match.”

McPhail admitted the adrenaline of competing in the Olympics for the first time contributed to a disappointing ninth place finish in London. He enters this year’s game as the No. 1 prone rifle shooter in the world looking for “personal redemption.”

“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.”

Eller has spent the last eight years chasing the feeling he had on standing atop the podium in Bejing.

“It was years of emotion coming out at once you don’t know whether to cry or laugh,” Eller said.

Sgt. 1st Class Glenn Eller

  • Event: Double Trap
  • When he will compete: Aug. 10
  • Past Olympics: 2000 Sydney; 2004 Athens; 2008 Beijing (Gold medalist); 2012 London
  • Hometown: Katy, Texas
  • He said it: “I could win every international competition besides the Olympic games and if I didn’t go to Olympic games no one would know, so you get to go prove yourself on an international stage against the best athletes in the world.”

Spc. Daniel Lowe

  • Event: Men’s Air Rifle and 3-Position Rifle
  • When he will compete: Aug. 8; Aug. 14
  • Past Olympics: N/A
  • Hometown: Olympia, Washington
  • He said it: “I spent a lot of days shooting 10 hours a day. It hurts, it’s not fun, but I love doing this.”

Sgt. 1st Class Michael McPhail

  • Event: Prone Rifle
  • When he will compete: Aug. 12
  • Past Olympics: 2012 London
  • Hometown: Darlington, Wisconsin
  • He said it: “It’s a little personal redemption. London didn’t work out the way I hoped. I have a good plan here for Rio and God willing I’ll get it done.”

Sgt. 1st Class Josh Richmond

  • Event: Double Trap
  • When he will compete: Aug. 10
  • Past Olympics: 2012 London
  • Hometown: Hillsgrove, Pennsylvania
  • He said it: “My first games in London, you can’t train yourself for something like that. It’s just unbelievable the amount of excitement and energy of the games.”
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