TAMPA, FL (WFLA) — When 48-year-old Emil Milev talks to his students at B.T. Washington Elementary School in Tampa about never giving up on their dreams, he’s not just reiterating a cliché. He’s living it.
The Physical Education teacher knows what it’s like to work countless hours to reach a goal. This summer he’s heading to the Olympics for the sixth time.
“I don’t want to talk to the little babies about shooting,” Milev said. “I talk about Olympians and how cool it is to travel.”
Milev, a shooter, says most of his students don’t really understand his sport. Most of them only think about mainstream sports like football and basketball.
“But some say, ‘Coach I want to be an Olympian, can I go with you?'” Milev laughs. “I talk about perseverance and how it takes time to develop skill.”
Milev’s had quite an interesting path to get to the red, white, and blue. He’s from Bulgaria. He admits he went through a tough time wondering if the sport was really for him.
In 2004, he was ready to give up. He wanted to start something new and build a life for his family. He moved to Florida, following his coach, Vladimir Chichkov. Chichkov eventually got his star student back to the range. Now years later, with Rio in sight, Milev doesn’t have any free time.
“The day flows one after the other,” Milev said. “I go to work and in the little breaks we have I do small exercises. After school I shoot for a couple of hours, go home, and go to sleep.”
Heading into Rio, Milev becomes the second U.S. Olympic shooter ever to qualify for six games. You can catch him starting in August during the 25m Rapid Fire Pistol men’s event. We asked if he thinks this could be his last Olympics.
“This could be the last. I really don’t know,” Milev said. “I don’t think that far ahead. Rio was the goal.”
TAMPA BAY OLYMPIANS:
- Paige Railey from Clearwater will compete on US Sailing team – read more about her here
- Trayvon Bromell, a St. Petersburg native, will compete in 100-meter dash – read more about his trials here
- Melanie Margalis, of Clearwater, will join US swim team – read more about her trials here