COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - USA Shooting's 2012 U.S. Paralympic Team nominee Sergeant First Class Josh Olson (USAMU/Spokane, Wash.) and Eric Hollen (Colorado Springs, Colo.) will compete in the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Cup in Szczecin, Poland, April 12-16.
As the only IPC World Cup of the year for both, and with the Paralympic Games a mere 140 days away, USA Shooting's National Paralympic Coach Bob Foth is anxious to see how both shooters perform against top-caliber competition.
"We're in our ramp-up phase currently with a focus on being at our very best for London," said Foth, a three-time Olympian and 1992 Olympic silver medalist. "This will allow us to gauge whether the scores they shoot in competition match the type of hard work and preparation they are putting in on a daily basis."
Taking place at the Sport Club for the Disabled in Szczecin, this will be the first time competing at the range for both athletes.
Olson will get underway with competition in the R3 class, a mixed-gender air rifle prone event, beginning Thursday, April 12. He'll compete one day and then head to London to join up with other USA Shooting National Team Members who are set to compete in the London World Cup (April 19-28) where he'll observe the competition and get an up-close look at the range he'll be shooting as a U.S. Paralympic Team member.
When competition kicks-off at the 2012 Paralympic Games on August 29, Olson will become the first active-duty service member to compete in the Paralympic Games. At the 2011 IPC World Cup in Sydney, Australia, Olson finished sixth in R3 (Mixed 10m Air Rifle Prone SH1). Earlier that year, he finished seventh in R6 (Mixed 50m Rifle Prone) at the IPC World Cup Alicante and eighth in R6 at the IPC World Cup USA.
While on patrol with his unit (101st Airborne division third brigade 1/187) in Iraq in 2003, Olson was struck with a rocket-propelled grenade resulting in the loss of his right leg from the hip down. After spending 18 months at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Olson received his assignment to the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit in Fort Benning, Ga. This is Olson's first Paralympic Games nomination, but has been a member of the National Paralympic Team for five years.
A member of the U.S. Army's Marksmanship Unit (USAMU), Olson is also involved in the TROOPS F1RST Foundation and has participated in "Operation Proper Exit" where he aided other vets recovering from injuries sustained during combat by visiting their place of injury in Iraq. In honor of his service and dedication to the country, Olson was awarded the Purple Heart from former President George W. Bush.
Hollen will compete in the men's air pistol event on Saturday, April 14. After a life-altering injury he sustained on his horse farm in Tennessee, Hollen gained a new lease on life by seizing the opportunity to compete in the sport of shooting. His renewed purpose was to attend school and develop his shooting abilities.
Prior to accident, Hollen was a Special Forces soldier in the U.S. Army. Hollen is the father of aspiring Junior Olympian Payten Hollen, a first year J-3 ski racer with Team Breckinridge and a day-use athlete at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.