10171-Joshua Olson photo

Joshua Olson

Athletics | Shooting


Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Limb deficiency
Origin of Impairment

Further personal information

Fort Benning, GA, USA
Serves in the Army, Coach, Veteran

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
After his accident in 2003 he spent 18 months rehabilitating. Once he left hospital, he was assigned to the Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning, GA, United States, where he serves as an instructor and began his para-shooting career in 2005.
Why this sport?
"One of the activities we did in rehab was go sport clay shooting, and I took a real liking to it. The Army Marksmanship Unit had called and asked if there were any wounded vets that wanted to stay on active duty and possibly compete at the Olympic or Paralympic Games and I jumped at the opportunity.I wanted to show other veterans with an impairment that there is life after injury and there is healing through sport."
Club / Team
US Army Marksmanship Unit: Fort Benning, GA, USA
Name of coach
Bob Foth [national], USA; Armando Ayala [club], USA

International debut

Competing for
United States

General interest

Oly (Athlete, 08 Feb 2012)
Hunting, fishing. (Athlete, 08 Feb 2012;, 01 Dec 2010)
Memorable sporting achievement
Being selected to compete at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. (Athlete, 08 Feb 2012)
Most influential person in career
His coaches. (Athlete, 08 Feb 2012)
Hero / Idol
His coach. (Athlete, 08 Feb 2012)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"The only shot that matters is the one you're about to take." (Athlete, 08 Feb 2012)
To be the most successful athlete he can be, to inspire people with an impairment to participate in sport. (Athlete, 08 Feb 2012)
In October 2003 while serving in Iraq, he was on patrol in the northern city of Tal Afar when his truck was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade [RPG]. He had dismounted to return fire when a second RPG exploded next to him and severely injured his right leg. He woke up eight days later in Walter Reed Army Medical Center [WRAMC] in Alexandria, VA, United States, having had his leg amputated. It took him 18 month to recover. He joined the army a year out of high school and had previously served in Kosovo and a year in Korea. (Athlete, 08 Feb 2012;, 13 Jun 2011)
Other information
By competing at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, he became the first ever active-duty US soldier to compete at a Paralympic Games. (, 27 May 2013)

He serves as an instructor at the Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning, GA, United States. Competing for the unit as an elite shooter gives him a sense of duty and training new recruits allows him to feel as if he is still contributing. "When I found out I could do this, I was like, 'Yeah, absolutely, let's do it.' You can't be in the fight, but you have the opportunity to help soldiers who are going to fight. So I'm still contributing, just in a different way. I can't represent the US as a deployed soldier, but now I represent them on a whole new battlefield - the athletic field." (, 27 May 2013;, 01 Dec 2009,, 16 Apr 2014)

After being part of the initial invasion force in 2003, he returned to Iraq in 2009 as part of the 'Operation Proper Exit' programme. The initiative was designed to offer him and seven other veterans with impairments and injuries the chance to return to honour fallen comrades and heal psychological wounds. "I have a lot of friends who didn't come home, a lot of friends who've been wounded. Sometimes I wake up from a bad dream and think, 'Was it all worth it?' For closure, I needed to go back and finish what I started, to leave on my feet and not on my back." (, 01 Dec 2009)

While undergoing rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center [WRAMC] in Alexandria, VA, United States in January 2004, he was instrumental in helping to create a vacuum socket for individuals with hip disarticulation. The socket was coined the 'Olson Design'. (, 13 Jun 2011)


Unit Date Rank
2010 IPC Shooting World Championships (Zagreb, Croatia)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Mixed 50m Rifle prone SH1 Qualification 2010-07-23 6
Mixed 50m Rifle prone SH1 Elimination 2010-07-23 6
London 2012 Paralympic Games (London, Great Britain)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
R3 - Mixed 10 m Air Rifle Prone SH1 Qualification 2012-09-01 28
R6 - Mixed 50 m Rifle Prone SH1 Qualification 2012-09-04 12