Paralympian sets stage for recovery - inspiring others through the sport of shooting
September 9, 2012
LONDON --U.S. Army Veteran and member of the 2012 U.S Paralympic shooting team, Eric Hollen found success by using shooting as a tool for recovery. He has paved the way for others with disabilities to focus their energy on recovery through adaptive sports.
In 2001, Hollen, a native of Colorado Springs, Colo. and former Special Operations Army Ranger, lost the use of his legs when his tractor overturned on top of him.
"One year after his injury, Eric started training for the Paralympics, said his mother, Linda Jensen-Monk. "He has accomplished his goal of competing in the Paralympics and we are so proud of him."
This is Hollen's first time competing in the Paralympics and he said it has been a dream come true. Although, Hollen did not medal in the competitions, he is grateful for the experience and opportunity to represent the U.S. during the Paralympics.
"This has been 10 years in the making and it's an awesome opportunity to represent my country," Hollen said. "The opportunity to compete in the Paralympics and represent the U.S. has been an honor."
Hollen competed in the 10-meter air pistol qualification event on August 30 with a 14th place finish shooting a 558 out of a possible 600 points, and he placed 23rd on September 6 in the 50-meter free pistol event.
"The experience was great," Hollen said. "I learned a lot about managing expectations, and I am very proud to have had this opportunity to represent my country in such an honorable way. I hope to inspire other injured veterans to find success in the competitive arena. There is just nothing in the world like this--the pressure, the opportunity, the process. It's all been an amazing journey to this point and now we can start to prepare for Rio 2016."
Alongside Hollen was his teammate, Sgt. 1st Class, Joshua Olson, another member of the 2012 U.S. Paralympic shooting team and the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit. Olson is the first active duty Soldier to compete in the Paralympics.
"This is my first time competing in the Paralympics, and it has been an amazing experience," said Olson, who was injured by a rocket-propelled grenade while on patrol with his unit in Iraq in 2003. The injury resulted in the loss of his right leg.
Olson competed in the mixed 10-meter prone air rifle competition on September 1, scoring 595 out of 600 possible points, but not enough to compete in the finals. He finished in 12th place during the mixed 50-meter prone rifle event on September 4.
When not training or participating in shooting competitions, both Olson and Hollen are mentors and advocates for individuals with disabilities, using their experience of living with an injury to motivate and inspire others.
"I hope that through my life as a Paralympic shooter, I can make a difference in the life of an individual who has a disability and help others to learn more about the sport of shooting," said Hollen.
He works closely with the U.S. Special Operations Forces Command Care Coalition, a model advocacy program for the Special Operations Force warriors and their families to enhance their quality of life and strengthen the overall readiness of Special Operations.
"I want to continue to work closely with disabled Veterans and individuals," said Hollen. "I want to be a part of their recovery process."
Hollen is enrolled at the University of California and working toward a master's degree in social work and counseling.