HILLSGROVE -- When the 2012 Olympics begin in London in just over a week, hundreds of athletes from across the country will represent Team U.S.A., including one originally from Sullivan County.
Josh Richmond is from Hillsgrove, but the Army marksman stationed in Georgia will soon be heading across the pond to represent the United States as part of the Olympic shooting team.
Richmond is currently ranked number one in the world in double trap shooting and people in the area are already rooting for him to win the gold.
The signs are everywhere in Sullivan County, wishing Hillsgrove native Josh Richmond luck as he goes for gold in double trap shooting at the 2012 Olympics.
Perhaps those rooting the hardest are his family and friends.
"It`s phenomenal. We`re just so excited for him. He`s worked for this goal since he was a little boy, so it`s great to see him finally reach it," said his mother, Sandy Richmond.
Josh has won many national and world championships, but it will be his first time competing in the Olympics games. WNEP`s Pennsylvania Outdoor life caught up with him back in 2003 as he was trying for the 2004 Athens games.
Richmond, 27, shot his first shotgun at age five and started shooting competitively at 11, but his family never dreamed the Olympics were in his future.
"Until he hit about 16, that`s when we realized it`s for real and it was going to happen. It`s just a matter of time. You can tell I`m one proud father," said his dad, Mike.
Family and friends gathered at the High Knob Inn in Hillsgrove were proud too. Josh worked at the restaurant to help pay for an expensive competitive shotgun.
"He said, 'You get me this gun and I`m going all the way.' So he got a job here at the High Knob Inn flipping burgers and chopping cheesesteaks and that`s how he paid half of the gun off and ever since then, shooting`s been paying his way now," added Mike Richmond.
As a marksman in the Army, Staff Sergeant Richmond gave up Olympic training for a tour of duty in Afghanistan. He will now have the honor of representing his country in the Olympics.
"It`ll be a good day when we stand over there in London and have the flag flying," added Mike.
Josh is ranked number one in the world and those who trained him, and with him, said he has what it takes to win the gold.
"The attitude and the internal strength is actually much more important than the mechanical skills. There`s a lot of guys out there with equal mechanical skills, but there are very few that become champions," said Les Greevy, his former coach and mentor. "This is the culmination. This is the top. I don’t know that anything could be more exciting."
"He is the guy to beat. He`s always been the guy to beat. He was the guy that I tried to beat for years, and did a few times. He always succeeds and I’m sure he will have the opportunity to glow and shine once again," said Greg Patton, his friend and former teammate.
Josh and the rest of the U.S. shooting team leave Friday for Denmark, where they will do some more training before heading to London.
Josh will compete on August 2, with qualifications and the finals all in one day. His parents will be there to support him.
"I hope that he just really enjoys the moment. he’s worked so hard to get here and I hope that he has a great day. No matter what, he’s a winner, but I’m sure he’s going to come out on top," said Sandy Richmond.
His father hopes, "that he holds it together and does what he does best and shoots to win."
Richmond's wife and two young children in Georgia, along with hundreds in our area, will be watching and rooting for him from here at home.