USA Shooting 2011 Discipline Athletes of the Year

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (December 8, 2011)

MilevIn addition to the USAS Male and Female Athletes of the Year, USA Shooting also nominated athletes in each discipline that were top performers for the 2011 season.  The Pistol Athlete of the Year is Emil Milev (Tampa, Fla.).  Milev (pictured at right), an Olympic medalist and decorated international shooter in Men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol, competed for Bulgaria prior to the 2008 Olympic Games.  He moved to the USA and as a result, was forced to sit out one Olympic Games per International Olympic Committee (IOC) regulations.  Milev has since found his stride in the USA and rediscovered his championship form in the 2011 season.  At the ISSF World Cup Sydney, Milev finished eighth overall with 581 match points.  Milev added another National Championship title to his resume with 1196 match points in Fort Benning, Ga., in July 2011. 

Milev, like all other Rapid Fire Pistol shooters, has had to adapt to the new finals format that will be used in the Olympic Games.  His dedication to his finals training appeared at the ISSF World Cup Munich, where Milev won the bronze medal with 25 hits in the final.  Not only was it his first ISSF World Cup medal of the season, but Milev’s win gave the USA its second Men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol quota.  This is the first time in over two decades that the USA will be able to send two athletes to compete in this event in the Olympic Games.  He continued to remain competitive internationally with a fifth place finish at the ISSF World Cup Final Wroclaw with 19 hits in the final.  Milev wrapped up a terrific season with a gold medal from the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.  He shot a new Pan American Games record of 24 hits in the final for intercontinental glory.  Milev commented on his Pistol Athlete of the Year award as he said, "It is definitely a nice surprise and an honor.  I know there are many shooters out there that deserve recognition as well.  I'm thankful to USA Shooting, and especially to the National Pistol Coach Sergey Luzov for standing behind me and believing in me. I'm also grateful for my personal Coach [and Assistant National Pistol Coach] Vladimir Chichkov’s time, effort and continuous support.” 

RichmondRhode’s counterpart as the Shotgun Athlete of the Year is Staff Sergeant Josh Richmond (Hillsgrove, Pa.), also a member of the USAMU.  Richmond (pictured at left) began 2011 at the ISSF World Cup Chile with 189 targets for the bronze medal.  He continued to rack up the medals on the ISSF World Cup circuit as he won the silver medal in Sydney, shooting 186 total targets down under.  At the 2011 USAS National Championships for Shotgun, he won the silver medal with 335 total targets.  A month later he finished fourth at the ISSF World Cup in Slovenia with 192 total targets.  Following Slovenia, USAS announced Richmond’s 2012 U.S. Olympic Team nomination (pending approval by the USOC).  After competing at the 2011 ISSF World Clay Target Championships, Richmond also deployed to serve his country as a member of the USAMU.  “I got the news of being selected while in Afghanistan so it was a great surprise and shock to me as well,” began a grateful Richmond.  “I knew I had a successful year but I was not tracking where I was compared to other talented shooters.  Thanks to the U.S. Army, all my supporters, coaches and family for sticking with me through all this travel, training, and competing.”  National Shotgun Coach Bret Erickson commented, “After winning the World Championship last year, Josh came back with another fantastic year and secured his spot on the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team with a great performance.” 

BeyerleThe Female Rifle Athlete of the Year is Jamie (Beyerle) Gray (Lebanon, Pa.).  Gray delivered a solid season by appearing in the finals of each ISSF World Cup that she attended.  Moreover, two of those three performances were medal-worthy.  Gray began the season in Sydney, Australia, with her first gold medal of the season in Women’s 50m Rifle Three Position with 685.3 total points.  Then, at her home range in Fort Benning, Ga., she executed an amazing come-from-behind victory with a 10.8 point tenth-shot to clinch the gold medal.  She finished with 683.2 points winning by just one-tenth of a point.  In early July, USAS announced Gray’s nomination to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team (pending approval by the USOC) for Women’s 50m Rifle Three Position. 

In her next international appearance in Munich, Germany, Gray fired 682.2 total points to finish fourth.  At the ISSF World Cup Final in Wroclaw, Poland, Gray shot 681.3 total points to for sixth place.  “It is always a great honor to reach an achievement such as Women's Rifle Athlete of the Year,” began Gray.  “I had a great season and I could not have reached such a level without those who support me and USA Shooting including my new husband [fellow shooter Hank Gray], our families and friends, coach Dave Johnson, coach Tom Tamas, the USAMU, ELEY, Sauer and all the other organizations that believe in USA shooting and their athletes.” 

HollenEric Hollen (Colorado Springs, Colo.), the Paralympic Athlete of the Year, was an addition to the U.S. Olympic Training Center Resident Athlete roster in 2011.  His dedication and discipline are apparent in his success as of late.  Hollen posted a score of 1118 points in P1 Men’s 10m Air Pistol SH1 at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Approved Competition that was held alongside USAS National Championships for Rifle and Pistol in Fort Benning, Ga.  At the IPC World Cup Sydney in late November, Hollen made USAS history.  First, he won a bronze medal in P4 Men’s 50m Free Pistol.  Then, in P1 Men’s 10m Air Pistol SH1, Hollen shot 557 match points to tie three shooters, but was confident in his finals ability as he fired 98.1 points in ten-shots to secure the silver medal.  The historic part, however, came from the 2012 Paralympic quota that Hollen won along with the medal.  This is the first-ever Paralympic quota won in USA Shooting’s history per IPC’s new quota distribution system. 

“I am so proud of Eric and all he has accomplished.  Despite a long, hard trip, short acclimation time and the pressure of knowing it was the final opportunity to win a quota, he got the job done in Sydney,” said National Paralympic Coach Bob Foth.  “Eric is a disabled veteran who has taken advantage of the unique opportunities available as an OTC Resident Athlete—the amazing support and intangibles that come with being in a high performance environment with focus athletes.”  An elated Hollen said, “I am so thankful to be part of such an amazing program and to the people who have helped me reach the next step to my ultimate goal—Coach Bob Foth, Coach Ray Arredondo, Sean McCann, Dave Johnson, Sergey Luzov and many more.” 

USA Shooting would like to congratulate all Athletes of the Year on award-winning performances and wish them continued success in 2012.  Follow members of the USA Shooting Team as the quest for the 2012 Olympic Games continues with the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Airgun Feb. 24-26, 2011 in Camp Perry, Ohio, the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Shotgun May 17-20 in Tucson, Ariz., and finally the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Smallbore June 1-2 in Fort Benning, Ga.

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