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WCAP Soldier-Athlete Will Run for Gold at Rio Olympics

By Pablo Villa, NCO Journal

August 17, 2016

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Spc. Paul Chelimo finished the 5,000-meter final in third place July 9 at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon. Chelimo rallied from a 10th place position to win his 5,000-meter semifinal heat Wednesday at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Chelimo will race for a gold medal in the final Saturday night. (Tim Hipps / Army News Service)

Nine runners were between Spc. Paul Chelimo and the finish line at Nilton Santos Stadium.

The Army water treatment specialist and member of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program was in 10th place during the final lap of the second semifinal heat of the 5,000-meter race at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. With 350 meters to go and such a seemingly insurmountable deficit to overcome, Chelimo’s gold-medal dreams seemed dashed.

Then, he made his move. It was one that didn’t surprise his former coach at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where Chelimo was an All-American runner for the Spartans before joining the Army in 2014.

“He just rolled right past everybody,” Linh Nguyen told the News and Record of Greensboro on Wednesday morning. “ … that’s just vintage Paul.”

Chelimo broke into a heated sprint, one that would see him complete the final lap of a 12.5-lap race in 54 seconds. He gradually streamed past his competitors to win his heat with a personal best time of 13:19.54 and secure a spot in the 5,000-meter final. The 25-year-old’s time was also the fastest among the field of 51 runners in two heats. Chelimo will race for a gold medal Saturday evening against 14 other qualifiers.

Before the race Wednesday morning, Chelimo posted a message on his Facebook page that reflected upon the lessons he has honed in the Army.

“I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.

“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

Bor runs to top-10 finish

Sgt. Hillary Bor finished eighth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase final Wednesday morning.

Bor completed the race with a time of 8:22.74, nearly three seconds faster than his finishing time in his semifinal race, which he won.

While Bor missed out on reaching the podium, running in the final was an unprecedented cap to his time at the Olympics. The financial management technician with the 230th Financial Management Support Unit, 4th Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade wasn’t mentioned in most media projections of pre-Olympic Trials favorites to earn berths on Team USA. 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. But he raised eyebrows with this semifinal heat win Monday.

Bor will now rejoin his unit, which is currently deployed to Afghanistan.

Other news

Two other 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.