“I am really excited by the chance to take this group of athletes to Rio. I know there will be struggles, but the opportunity to compete on this stage is amazing."
The USA’s coach Robert ‘Bob’ Foth will lead the USA’s biggest ever shooting team to a Paralympics Games, at Rio 2016.
During his seven years as the team’s head coach, Foth has been instrumental in guiding Paralympic debutants Jazmin Almlie-Ryan, McKenna Dahl, Tammy Delano, John Joss and Michael Tagliapietra to Rio.
“I certainly have an athlete’s perspective from all my competitive years,” said Foth, who is also a three-time Olympian and Barcelona 1992 silver medallist.
“It is interesting to not be in control of my performance, but shifting focus to help others with theirs.
“I think I am able to help the athletes get ready for the Games environment and what it feels like.
Over the past twelve months, the US shooters have all reached finals at major international meets.
Almlie-Ryan won gold on home soil at the 2015 IPC Shooting World Cup in Fort Benning in R5 (mixed 10m air rifle prone SH2). Delano secured bronze in R2 (women’s 10m air rifle standing SH1).
At the 2015 World Cup in Sydney, Australia, Tagliapietra won gold in P3 (mixed 25m pistol SH1) and Joss clinched silver in R6 (mixed 50m rifle prone SH1).
Meanwhile, 20-year-old Dahl produced three top-five finishes at three consecutive World Cup events in 2016.
“We only earned two slots for the London Paralympics and we now have five for Rio,” Foth explained.
“Since all five are new to the Games, it is hard to know exactly what to expect in Brazil.
“I am certainly doing everything I possibly can to prepare them for this opportunity.
All five are very different with a wide variety of strengths, backgrounds and challenges.
“It will be fun and interesting to see how it all plays out. There are always numerous surprises at the Games.”
Foth’s vision has been embraced by fellow coaches, athletes and staff and it is clear that he is more focused on substance than style.
“I always try to keep positive and focus on teaching and communicating effectively, giving the athletes all the tools they can handle with attention on improving processes,” he said.
“I like “why to” much more than “how to” and want them to have ownership of their performance. I truly love the teaching part of this, which helps tremendously.”
Despite the USA’s significant achievements and professional training facilities in Colorado, they still face difficulties with severe funding setbacks.
“Our budget shortfalls are almost nightmarish so the good results seem miraculous sometimes,” Foth said.
“One of the hardest messages I have ever had to deliver was after the Fort Benning World Cup when I had to tell the athletes that they now needed to shift their priorities to start individual fundraising if they wanted to be prepared correctly for Rio.
“I am very proud of what we have accomplished in that very challenging environment.”
Having already experienced what it is like to coach within the Paralympic arena at London 2012, Foth will go into Rio with more confidence after learning some valuable lessons.
“I learnt to not take too long to intervene if necessary. We are allowed somewhat easier access to our athletes and there are times when it is appropriate,” he said.
“The trick is knowing what to say and when to say it.
“I am really excited by the chance to take this group of athletes to Rio. I know there will be struggles, but the opportunity to compete on this stage is amazing.
“The Games are also the biggest and best parties for the whole world to participate in and I hope we can all enjoy that.”
Editor’s note: Each sport on the Rio 2016 Paralympic programme will have a dedicated week of featured content published on paralympic.org. Every week a new sport will be featured and the series will run until September’s Games, helping the public understand more about the 22 sports being contested in Rio.
Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs)
The IPC’s Global ATR is Jet Set Sports, and Rio 2016 tickets and packages can be purchased on the CoSport website.
Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.
Visa International is the exclusive payment card and the official payment system for the Paralympic Games.