War hero proves a top shot

JOSH Olson's road to the London Paralympics started on a battlefield in Iraq in 2003.

The US soldier lost a leg after being hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.

Now he has got the chance to serve his country again and it is because of what happened to him in Iraq that he has.

If not for his horrific injury, Olson, who is now 32, may never have discovered this talent for shooting.

You see, Olson did not know he was that good a shot until he began his 18-month rehabilitation.

One of the occupational therapy events at the army camp he was at was a sporting clays exercise.

After an instructor helped him with the basics, Olson then proceeded to hit 49 of the 50 targets.

The instructor then called the US Army Marksmanship Unit, which develops Olympic shooters and trains soldiers, and said he had found a possible candidate.

He joined the unit and the rest as they say, is history.

The now Sergeant 1st Class is about to become the first active-duty American soldier to make the Paralympics as a rifleman in the shooting team.

He will take aim in two events - the mixed 10m air rifle and the mixed 50m prone rifle.

Olson, who enlisted when he was 17, said there was no doubt that taking up shooting had renewed his physical self-worth and also allowed him to stay in the Army.

"I tell my story and how sport has helped me through my injury, helped me cope, and helped me concentrate more on my ability rather than my disability," Olson said. "I can't carry a rucksack through the mountains, but I can still pull a trigger and I'm going to be representing so many people when I'm in London.

"I'm doing this for all those who have been injured in combat, for those sitting in hospitals right now wondering what lies ahead. I'm doing it for those serving in Afghanistan right now in the middle of a tough fight.

"I can't promise that I am going to win, but I can promise that I'm going to show the world how tough a US soldier is."

Topics:  london paralympics

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