By Ms. Brittany Nelson (IMCOM)July 2, 2018
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS (July 2, 2018)- Athletes in the Army's World Class Athlete Program took home 14 medals at five national championships and world team trials across America over the last two weeks in June. Two medals at the Modern Pentathlon championship in San Antonio, Texas, three at the Track and Field Championship in Des Moines, Iowa, two at the Shooting Championship in Fort Benning, Georgia, six at the Greco-Roman Wrestling World Team trials in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and one medal at the Para-Triathlon Championship in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin were won.
WCAP is part of the U.S. Army's Installation Management Command and was formalized in 1997. With training facilities across America, WCAP currently has Soldier athletes in sixteen sports constantly training for national and Olympic titles.
At the Modern Pentathlon championship, Spc. Amro Elgeziry won his first national championship and Pfc. Samantha Achterberg won her fifth title. Achterberg expressed her gratitude after winning.
"[I am] very grateful for all this sport has brought me and honored to represent the U.S. Army and the World Class Athlete Program!," Achterberg said. "Thank you to everyone who continues to support me and congratulations to all the women that were out there competing, that Texas heat and humidity was no joke."
Up north in Des Moines, Iowa, Sgt. Elkanah Kibet placed third in the 10,000 meter race with a time of 29:05.51. This year was his first appearance at the USATF championships. Kibet previously competed in marathons and is using 10,000 meter races to improve his marathon times.
"Those track guys are fast and it's fun. I tried to push and Shadrack Kipchirchir got me. We were trying to prove our way but you know it's humid and it was a tough run. It's hard to run fast in these conditions but I feel happy," Kibet said right after the race.
Kipchirchir, who placed second, previously ran for the Army in WCAP. He recently signed with Nike to race for them after fulfilling his military duties.
Spc. Paul Chelimo also walked away with a medal after earning first place in the 5,000 meter race. Chelimo kept a constant lead in the front of the pack. Spc Emmanuel Bor, who also competed in the event, was right up with Chelimo for a good portion of the race and earned fifth place overall.
Chelimo, an Olympic silver medalist and world bronze medalist, finished the race with a time of 13:29.47.
"The last 100 meters I saw a gap open and I knew I was going to win. I didn't just take it for granted that I was going to win, you always have to be prepared. The Army has always taught me to be prepared no matter what. So today I was prepared and I got a win," Chelimo said moments after crossing the finish line.
Another medal for the WCAP track and field team came from Staff. Sgt. Hillary Bor who placed second in the Men's 3,000 meter steeplechase event with a time of 8:32.37. Spc. Haron Lagat was a few places behind Bor in the event, placing sixth. The Soldier athletes' event was pushed back two hours due to a rain delay but they both brought their a-game.
"The wait was a little bit mental, it's hard to get ready then have to wait another two hours," Bor said. "I was going against a bronze and silver Olympic medalist so it was a really hard battle. It was a good finish and I will continue training."
Bor mentioned that it was nice to return to Iowa. He attended Iowa state university from 2007 to 2011 where he competed on the cross country and track and field teams.
Other WCAP Soldiers who competed at the USATF championships were Sgt. Nicholas Kipruto in the men's 10000 meter event and Spc. Marcus Maxey in the men's 110 meter hurdles.
The Greco-Roman wrestling and freestyling wrestling team stole the spotlight at the 2018 United States of America Greco-Roman Wrestling World Team Trials by earning six medals total. Sgt. Whitney Conder, a 2016 U.S. Olympic alternate, placed first at the U.S. Freestyle Wrestling World Team Trials Final X in her weight class of 50kg. Sgt. Ellis Coleman, who competed in the 2012 Olympics, placed first at the Greco-Roman Wrestling World Team Trials in his 67kg weight class. They both earned spots on team USA for the Wrestling World championships in Budapest, Hungary.
Coleman lost his first match and had to come back in the second two rounds to defeat his opponent who happened to be the same competitor he faced last year. Coach Shon Lewis gave Coleman some advice.
"Every time you wrestle no one can keep up with your pace no one can go as hard as you can, that's going to take a lot out of them," Lewis said.
Coleman said he picked up the paced, which led him to win the next two matches. Coleman mentions how the win isn't just for himself, it is bigger because he represents the Army as a whole.
"I am not doing this for myself anymore, once I joined the Army that big responsibility of having a uniform on [changed competitions]. [I am able] to represent something better and bigger than myself. It's not just the World Class Athlete Program I represent, it's the whole Army," Coleman said.
Sgt. Max Nowry earned a silver medal in the 55kg weight class as well as Sgt. Ildar Hafizov in the 60kg weight class and Sgt. Ryan Mango 63kg. Sgt. Lucas Sharadon won third place in his 97kg weight class.
Over at Fort Benning, Georgia, the national shooting championship was going on and Sgt. Nick Mowrer took gold as a ten meter air pistol shooter as well as Second Lt. Sarah Beard in the ten meter air rifle event. Their victories earned them spots on Team USA for the World Cup.
WCAP also has a number of para-athletes including Sfc. Allan Armstrong who just earned his second title as National Para-Triathlon Champion with a time of 1:12:23. Armstrong is also a two time Para-triathlon World Cup medalist. He mentions the moment he knew he was going to win the lengthy race.
"Coming out of the water onto the bike, I noticed the other competitors behind me and that's when I noticed it was going my way. I just had to hold the first place spot for the rest of the race," Armstrong said.
Armstrong has served in the United States Army for fifteen years but had to take a break when he got injured in a motorcycle accident in 2013. After going through rehabilitation Armstrong was eager to get back to duty but the Army said he was unfit. Sgt. Armstrong was determined to serve his country again and worked through his disability until he was able to join the Army again.
His dedication to serve is present in his competitive nature. Armstrong was always an avid runner but when he got injured he could not run so he took up swimming and then cycling for more cardio. After rehabilitation he was able to run again and thought 'I am already doing all three of these sports, why not compete in para-triathlons.'
This past week of victories among Soldier athletes in the World Class Athlete Program proves the high caliber of athleticism among the Soldier athletes training across the country to represent WCAP and the United States Army.