By Tim Hipps, U.S. Army Installation Management CommandJune 24, 2016
MAMMOTH LAKES, Calif. -- Six soldier-athletes will compete for spots on the U.S. Olympic Team at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials, scheduled for July 1 through 10, at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.
"We have a lot of guys who are going to do very well," said Olympian Maj. Dan Browne, the most decorated distance runner in U.S. Army history, who now coaches the distance runners assigned to the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program.
"I think this is going to be a very exciting Olympic Trials for Army Track and Field," Browne said. "I think we're going to open some eyes."
Spcs. Shadrack Kipchirchir and Leonard Korir are scheduled to challenge 2012 Olympic silver medalist Galen Rupp in the 10,000-meter final July 1 at 6:15 p.m. PT. The race will be nationally televised live on NBC and streamed on NBC Sports Live Extra.
"They're going to give it 100 percent out there and I'm confident they'll represent the Army well," Browne said. "These Soldiers are great ambassadors of the U.S. Army and personify the sacrifice, discipline and work ethic that all Soldiers strive for each and every day."
Kipchirchir and Korir will return to the track, July 4, for the first round of the 5,000 meters at 5:02 p.m. PT. They will be joined in that event by teammate Spc. Paul Chelimo, who ran a personal record time of 7:39:00 in the 3,000 meters at the 2016 U.S. Indoor Track and Field Championships, which ranked him No. 2 in the United States.
"Some people think my 3,000 meters was a fluke," said Chelimo, 25, who was a five-time NCAA All-American runner for the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. "I want to go there and show them that I'm strong and back in the game. I'm strong and I'm consistent. That's all that matters right now."
The 5,000 meters final, set for July 9 at 5:20 p.m. PT, also will be nationally televised by NBC. The top three finishers will earn spots on the U.S. Olympic team.
"I have to do my best to get to the top three to get to the Olympics," Chelimo said, "but I want to win. I want to go only for first place."
Browne is confident that his Soldiers can accomplish the mission in Eugene.
"These Soldiers have the talent and they are fit enough to do it, but it has to happen on that day, too," Browne said. "It's so competitive."
The WCAP distance runners recently have been training at 8,500 feet above sea level in the mountains around Mammoth Lakes, California, where they have been logging 90 to 100 miles per week.
"I just administered the most impressive workout I've seen my guys do since being a part of this program," Browne said. "I was on my bike and these guys were hitting 16.7 miles per hour on my bike computer. They're knocking it out of the park."
Chelimo said becoming a Soldier and training with fellow Soldiers in the U.S. Army World Class Athlete under Browne's leadership "has been a motivating factor" for him and has brought him to the level he's at right now.
"The WCAP program has been great for me," said Chelimo, a native Kenyan who came to America on a college scholarship to run and became a naturalized U.S. citizen by joining the U.S. Army. "My main goal was to come to the United States because no other country would pay for my college scholarship for four years. So I thought it would be great to give to give back to the United States and join the Army, and then I heard about WCAP. Now I can continue my running career and also be a Soldier."
Three-time Olympian WCAP Staff Sgt. John Nunn already earned his spot on Team USA in February by winning the men's 50-kilometer Race Walk Olympic Trials race in Santee, California. He will attempt to qualify for the 20-kilometer race walk, as well, on June 30 in Oregon.
"It would be fun to do both [the 50K and 20K in Rio de Janeiro], but 50 is what I'm good at and what I've held the Olympic standard for a couple years now," Nunn said. "I'll still make the 50 the priority in Rio and we'll still race the 20, but it really becomes a great speed workout a week before the 50K."
Soldier-athletes will also compete in the hurdle and steeplechase races at the trials.
Spc. Marcus Maxey, a three-time NCAA All-American hurdler at Clemson who is now stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, will run the 110-meter high hurdles. He won the event at the 14th annual Tri-City Classic on June 4 in Lancaster, Texas, with a time of 13.39 seconds, the nation's seventh-fastest time run this season.
"That day came one week after I got a coach," said Maxey, 25, who began working with University of Oklahoma assistant coach Ronnye Harrison. "I was hyped."
Earlier this spring, Maxey posted a then lifetime best time of 13.65 at the Texas Relays in Austin, where he finished third behind winner David Oliver, a 2013 world champion and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist. Maxey believes his time is now.
"We're looking for another quantum leap at the trials," Maxey said. "I think my chances are pretty high. The leading time going in is 13.12 and I'm right there. When I ran my 13.3 I didn't have any competition around me. But at the Olympic Trials I'm guaranteed to have competition around me, and I'm a very competitive person."
Maxey, however, dreams more about making the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team than he talks about chasing a world record.
"It would mean the world to me," Maxey said. "It would mean I'm going to the highest track and field platform in the world."
Spc. Hillary Bor of Fort Carson, Colorado, is entered in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. The first round is scheduled for July 4 at 4:33 p.m. PT, with the final set for July 8 at 5:23 p.m. PT.