Glenn Eller is excited to be representing the United States on multiple fronts during the Olympic Games. Eller will be a face of Team USA when he shoots in the double trap on Aug. 10 at the Olympic Shooting Centre in Deodoro. The Sgt. First Class will also be a representative of the U.S. Army as he tries to regain his gold medal from 2008.
“I do it for my family, myself and all the other soldiers in the army,” Eller said of his motivation at the Olympics. “I get to represent the nation in more ways than one. That’s an honor to do that.”
Eller joined the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit 10 years ago at 24. The Army gave him the structure and stability to continue his first love: shooting. He and his unit members teach other soldiers how to handle guns, how to shoot properly and how to be efficient with ammunition, all skills he uses in every competition.
In Beijing in 2008, he netted gold in his first Olympics since joining the Army. A drop to 22nd in 2012 was his most disappointing finish in four Olympics.
“In2012, it was just a struggle to make the team,” Eller said. “I had the high of winning in 2008, dropped off and I barely got back. I thought it was going to be a little easier. I figured since I’ve won one before, it should be a little easier. The Olympics doesn’t get any easier. It’s just as hard every time.”
Eller’s total of five Olympic appearances is unprecedented for a U.S. man in the shotgun discipline. He plans to compete in more Olympic Games – plural. So, the desire to rededicate himself after a humbling experience in 2012 was simple.
“It’s the Olympics,” Eller said. “Who doesn’t want to be here? It’s the best place to be in the world for these three weeks.”
He returned home from a three-month stint in Afghanistan to win golds at the 2014 National Championships and 2015 World Cup Gabala, and silvers at the 2014 Munich World Cup and 2015 National Championships. He’s back on the rise, looking for redemption in Rio.
“I know how hard this is, and I’ve trained my butt off for this one,” Eller said. “I know I’ve done everything possible in my power to get trained up for this match.”
The beauty of shooting, Eller said, is that it’s a family-oriented sport. It was his dad who introduced him to shooting at age 8. His two grandfathers and one grandmother also shoot. At 18, he made his Olympic debut in 2000.
He also loves the challenging and rewarding nature of the sport where anyone of any age, height or weight can win at any given time.
“He’s going to put his energy into things he really believes in and loves,” said fellow Olympian Matt Emmons of Eller. “He’s always loved this game, and I know a lot of it is for him. But I know he’s also a proud American, and he’s very happy where he’s been in the Army for the last 10 years, so I know he’s doing it for his teammates, for the other guys in the Army and to make America proud. I know that’s always on his mind.”
Frank Gogola is a student in the Sports Capital Journalism Program at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.