PHENIX CITY, Ala. (WTVM) – Team USA brought home the most medals from the Olympics in Tokyo, including a gold for one of the athletes competing from the Army marksmanship team on Fort Benning. This logistics officer was “on target” when she came to News Leader 9 to share her story for our “Military Matters” report.
“Anytime you can combine the best fighting force in the world and Team USA, then nothing can stop us,” 1st Lt. Amber English said.
And nothing stopped her from bringing home the Gold Medal in women’s skeet shooting from the 2020 Olympics, representing the U.S. Army Marksmanship Team on Fort Benning. Back home in Phenix City now, this 1st time Olympian stopped by News Leader 9 to talk about taking home the top prize.
”It’s always been a lifelong dream of mine and I really did think I could accomplish it. I just had to set up a really good training environment, this is a long time coming,” English said.
She did gymnastics until her early teen years – but started shooting for fun at age 6 with her family of accomplished shooters, first firing at competitions when she was 16. ”My uncle and dad competed in shooting. My mom, my aunt, and I had a cousin that shot rifle,” English said.
Her father, a 5-time national champion shooter, passed away in 2016 in a diving accident, prompting English to briefly walk away from the sport.
”It was hard for me to get back on the range (after her father’s death), I’m not going to lie. I got into shooting because of him,” 1st Lt. English told us.
Back then, her friend, now 3-time gold medalist skeet shooter Vincent Hancock encouraged her. ”And he (Hancock) said Amber, I still believe in you. Come to the range, let’s shoot, let’s do it, it’s going to be hard. And here we are, Gold medal now.”
1st Lt. English joined the Army reserves 4 years ago, assigned to the U.S. Army World Class Athlete program, aiming for Gold in the Olympics.
“I was training and shooting well over 500 shells a day to get ready for this big competition, and we taper it back right before we leave, so we’re sharp and ready to go,” English said.
All that hard work had her focused on the process, one target at a time.
“I thought I knew what match pressure was until I stepped on that stage and felt stuff I’d never felt before. I knew I was going to win this match, from my training, and I trained very hard,” English said.
With nerves of steel, she broke an Olympic record by hitting 56 out of 60 for the skeet shooting finals in Tokyo… getting so emotional she missed her last target. ”I hit one, lost the last one, but as soon as I saw the pink puff, I knew it was over and I forgot how to shoot,” English said. “It was really awesome to be with some of my fellow Army marksmanship teammates, we had 5 of us over there, and I was really happy to see them grind out and compete.”
Members of this unit on Fort Benning have now won 24 Olympic medals since 1960. English did not make the Olympic team in 2012 or 2016, when she was an alternate. English’s message for others: “The biggest takeaway is: If you have a passion, don’t quit. If there are kids out there watching, sometimes sports can be frustrating, and it can be very rewarding as well.
”I’m so humbled by this experience and so proud to be able to be able to represent Team USA,” she added.
And we may see this Colorado native shooting again in the 2024 Olympics. To hear our full conversation with this Gold medal winner, go to https://www.wtvm.com/page/podcast/.
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