A US Army lieutenant joined the military after not qualifying for previous Olympics. Now, she is a gold medalist and Olympic-record holder.

A US Army lieutenant joined the military after not qualifying for previous Olympics. Now, she is a gold medalist and Olympic-record holder.
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Amber English
Gold medallist USA's Amber English walks with a national flag after the women's skeet final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Asaka Shooting Range in Tokyo on July 26, 2021. TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP via Getty Images
  • Amber English set an Olympic record in skeet shooting by hitting 56 of 60 targets.

  • English joined the US Army as a logistics officer in 2017 and is a first lieutenant.

  • She missed the Olympics in 2012 and 2016 but is now a gold medalist after four years in the army.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Amber English had to wait until she was 31 to make her first Olympics, but she's already left her mark on its history now that she's there.

The American shooter set an Olympic record in women's skeet shooting by hitting 56 of 60 targets to claim the gold medal on Monday. She defeated the event's defending champion, Diana Bocasi of Italy.

English, a first lieutenant and logistics officer in the US Army, is one of nine US soldiers competing in the Olympics this year through the World Class Athlete Program (WCAP), which allows soldiers to perform at the international level. But English's military background has also been a unique bridge for her athletic career and making it to Tokyo.

The Colorado native failed to qualify for the Olympics in 2012 and then made a push to make the team in 2016. However, her father, Mike, passed away that year.

Her father's death severely affected her performance in the qualifiers, and she ended up as an alternative, according to Christopher Adams of Military Family Magazine.

After missing out on back-to-back Olympics and losing her father, English channeled her passion for shooting to serve her country by joining the military as a logistics officer in 2017. She quickly became a part of the Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning, Georgia.

There, she was surrounded by people who constantly reassured her that she could reach the Olympics and pushed her to do it, according to Military Family Magazine.

"One of the things I've learned since joining the military is that these people that I'm surrounded by, whether they're shooting or whether deployed, whatever their job is in the military, they still have to figure out how to get the job done," she told Adams. "I'm surrounded by enough people to have that support to go get it done. They've pushed me daily to be in that environment."

With the support of her fellow service members, English went right back to training to make the US Olympic roster for 2020. She trained five to seven days per week from dawn to 4:30 pm.

Her shooting style, which is international shooting, involves shooting 125 targets in two days.

That training paid off in a big way with her historic performance after a long and difficult road to the world stage.

"I'm very, very glad. This has been a long time coming," English said after her performance. "All the skeet shooters are very close, and we're just ready to keep it rolling."

English was joined on the medal podium by fellow American shooter Vincent Hancock, who made his own history one hour after English's performance by becoming the first skeet shooter to win three gold medals.

"I love that girl like a sister, and now we both have medals around our neck," Hancock said after his match. "It sets the tone of what can happen at USA Shooting. Our athletes have been shooting at a really high level for quite a few years now. Because we're a small sport, we don't quite get the recognition, but looking at the number of medals we win on a yearly basis, it's impressive."

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