RIO DE JANEIRO (Aug. 21, 2016) -- Sgt. Nathan Schrimsher was the first athlete named to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team and one of the last to compete in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Schrimsher competes in the Modern Pentathalon, which includes five different events: fencing, a 200-meter freestyle swimming race, show jumping, and a combined 3,200-meter cross-country race and pistol-shooting event. Because of the amount of time it takes to complete the different stages of competition, it tends to be one of the last medal events of any summer Olympics.
Schrimsher placed 11th, which is a great show for Team USA in this European-dominated sport. Robert Beck was the last U.S. Modern Pentathlon medalist with a bronze at the 1960 Rome Olympic Games.
"I have absolutely no regrets," Schrimsher said. "I will go for the rest of my life and never look back at what I could have done better here."
Schrimsher surprised himself by finishing strong in the final event--combined pistol shooting and a 3,200 meter cross-country run.
"Everyone out here is a fantastic runner and it's my weaker event, but I just ran my heart out," he said. "I knew at one point I was in third place in the event and my shooting was on point -- it was really, really good -- but everyone's so fast," Schrimsher continued.
He met his goal in fencing with 20 victories, and completed the 200-meter freestyle swim in 2:00.87, seventh fastest among the 36 competitors.
"I jumped in the pool and I was like, 'It's the Olympics, you've got to give it everything,'" Schrimsher said. "I was right on point with my time. It wasn't my best time, but it was really close."
He placed 18th in equestrian show. The equestrian portion is often the most challenging; the athletes receive horses via a lottery, and have as little as 20 minutes to become familiar with their equestrian partner before they compete.
Schrimshers' teammate, three-time Olympian Margaus Isaksen, said in an interview with NBC that she resorts to bribery.
"I'll bring small apples or cookies, and try to be really friendly and speak to them like they're people," she said. "It's really crazy."
Schrimsher believes the unusual and little-known sport is perfectly suited for military athletes, as it contains skills -- running and shooting -- and requires traits -- endurance, perseverance and resilience -- which are very familiar to most Soldiers.
While swimming and fencing may have fallen off most Soldiers' lists of competencies, horses are still very much a part of Army life on many installations.
Schrimsher credits the Army with his success at reaching the Olympic venue, and added that the support he received from his brothers-in-arms inspired him to do as well as he did in Rio.
"I've had an incredible amount of support over the past weeks -- messages from all over the world. I'm just so thankful for all my battle buddies around the world that have really been rooting me on.
"I feel eternally grateful for all of this," he said.
Schrimsher singled out his WCAP teammates Sgt. Dennis Bowsher, a 2012 Olympian who served as his training partner on the long road to Rio, and Spc. Logan Storie, who helped him improve his swimming skills.
He also gave credit to his younger brother, Lucas, who just missed earning his own spot on the Modern Pentathlon team in the Rio Games.
"My little brother always pushes me to be better," Schrimsher said, "but without the Army supporting me, this dream would have never happened," he said.
"I am so proud to be a Soldier and represent the Army at the Olympic Games here in Rio," Schrimsher said. "I couldn't have done it without you -- my brothers."