Army Athletes Continue Quest for Gold at Rio Olympics
By Pablo Villa, NCO Journal
August 16, 2016
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The gold-medal chase is still on for several Soldier-athletes taking part in the 2016 Olympic Games as the competition enters its final week in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Sgt. Hillary Bor continued to impress in his unlikely trek to the Games by winning his semifinal heat Monday in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 8:25.01. Bor’s time ranks sixth overall among competitors. He will run in the 3,000-meter steeplechase final Wednesday morning.
For Bor, who wasn’t mentioned in most media projections of pre-Olympic Trials favorites to earn berths on Team USA, the chance to race for a medal is an unprecedented opportunity. While he was an accomplished NCAA steeplechaser, having been named an All-American four times while attending Iowa State University, Bor had stopped running competitively for nearly two years before he enlisted in 2013.
“I was not running when I joined the military,” Bor told the Army news service last month after his runner-up finish at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon. “Then I started running for fun just to represent the Army at the Army Ten-Miler and in cross country.”
That fun developed into a competitive streak, one that Bor used to help his All-Army team win this year’s Armed Forces Cross Country Championship at Bend, Oregon. Bor followed that up with his Olympic berth. Now he has a chance to claim one of sports’ biggest prizes, something he said he wouldn’t have been able to achieve without the resilience he has honed while part of the Army. He is also grateful for the opportunity to compete at all given that his unit – the 230th Financial Management Support Unit, 4th Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade – at Fort Carson, Colorado, is currently deployed to Afghanistan.
“I was actually scheduled to deploy with my unit, but my (Army) brothers deployed instead of me,” Bor said. “That changed my mindset, that I needed to work out, because you don’t take anything for granted. I started training hard, and I realized that I had a chance.”
That chance arrives Wednesday.
Three U.S. boxers remain in the hunt for the country’s first gold medal since Andre Ward claimed the hardware in the light heavyweight division of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
When Shakur Stevenson (bantamweight), Gary Russell (light welterweight) and Claressa Shields (women’s middleweight) return to the ring for action today and Wednesday, they will have an NCO in their corner.
Sgt. 1st Class Joe Guzman is part of the coaching staff led by Billy Walsh. For Guzman, who is an assistant boxing coach for the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program at Fort Carson, Colorado, the Olympics are familiar territory. He was part of the staff for Team USA Boxing at the 2012 London Olympics as a trainer. This time around, he is a full-fledged assistant, part of a staff that includes Augie Sanchez in addition to Walsh.
Guzman has been a WCAP coach since 2008. Before his foray into coaching, he was an accomplished boxer in his own right. Guzman was a three-time All Armed Forces champion and won a silver medal at the 2007 World Military Championships. He qualified for the Olympic Trials in 2008, but his career was cut short by a knee injury.
Three other Soldiers, including two NCOs, from the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program compete later this week.
- Sgt. Nathan Schrimsher begins action in the modern pentathlon Thursday. Schrimsher is coached by fellow Soldier, Staff Sgt. Dennis Bowsher. Staff Sgt. John Nunn competes in the 50-kilometer race walk Friday. Spc. Paul Chelimo will run Wednesday in the 5,000-meter race.
- Six other athletes from WCAP and the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit have already finished competition at the Rio Olympics. They include:
- Sgt. 1st Class Josh Richmond finished 7th overall in the men’s double trap competition Aug. 10.
- Sgt. 1st Class Glenn Eller finished 14th overall in the men’s double trap competition Aug. 10
- Sgt. 1st Class Keith Sanderson finished 10th overall in the men’s 25-meter rapid fire pistol competition Saturday.
- Sgt. 1st Class Michael McPhail finished 19th overall in the men’s 50-meter rifle prone competition Friday.
- Spc. Leonard Korir finished 14th overall and Spc. Shadrack Kipchirchir finished 19th overall in the men’s 10,000-meter race.