After competing in six Olympic games, Emil Milev has a new challenge ahead of him: being head coach of the Ohio State pistol team as it prepares for another triumphant season.
The pistol team won last year’s women’s aggregate national championships and the open team intercollegiate championship for the third season in a row. Milev said he is looking forward to building on the success of an already highly decorated program and “taking it to the next level.”
“The name is what led me here — it’s the best in the country,” Milev said. “I think the team and I can work together, and this collaboration can be beneficial to the program. I want to give them a lot of opportunities in the sport and in life.”
The Bulgarian-born Milev competed for his home country in four Olympic games between 1992 and 2004 and earned the silver medal in the 1996 Atlanta games, before moving to the U.S. in 2004 and becoming a U.S. citizen in 2009. He competed for the U.S. in the 2012 London and 2016 Rio games. Milev also is a six-time World Championship competitor, earning the silver medal in 1994.
Milev began the sport of pistol as a hobby, going with friends to the shooting range. He began intercollegiate competition, eventually working toward qualifying for the World Championship and Olympics.
“I felt hungry for the competitiveness, and started practicing harder, reading books and learning more about the sport,” Milev said. “Never in high school did I think I would be at six Olympic games and even receiving a medal. I just love it so much. I never dreamed it would be my life, but it slowly turned out to be that way. It’s very rewarding.”
A main goal of Milev’s is to have the program focus more to the Olympic-styled events he knows best.
“The [National Rifle Association] is making a few changes in their competitive events, but right now only three collegiate events pistol shooters participate in are Olympic,” Milev said. “I would like to see the program go in this direction, and eventually see athletes coming here to contribute to our team along with our athletes competing and winning in international matches in the years to come.”
Pistol has multiple events in the men’s and women’s divisions, depending on the size of the gun used and the distance from the target. The type of competitions also vary in how fast the shooter must get the shots off. Most of the sport, as described by Milev, is a balance between controlling the fine-tuned machine to work with the shooter and the mental focus needed to be successful.
“To truly appreciate pistol, you have to try it,” Milev said. “Even just learning more about it, asking our athletes about what they do and how they must train, people will understand this is truly a sport.”
Sophomore Anthony McCollum, who earned the silver medal in last year’s national open-air competition, said Milev has already made an impact on the Buckeyes, though he was hired less than three weeks ago.
The team competes on October 27-28 at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where it will face Army, Coast Guard, North Dakota State and Utah to begin the season.
“We ask for the Ohio State community to celebrate with us, there’s a lot of talent on this team and you can expect lots of wins this year,” Milev said.