Spc. Benard Keter crossed the finish line of the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 8:21.81 at the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials June 25, earning his spot to compete at the Summer Olympic games in Tokyo, Japan.
Keter is a Soldier-athlete in the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program and qualified for his first Olympic games at the trials in Eugene, Oregon, despite the record heat wave the area was undergoing.
“This is a dream come true,” said Keter, the 2019 Army 10-miler runner-up. “Everyone dreams of going to the Olympics, but getting to go as a Soldier-athlete means everything to me.”
The Pacific Northwest experienced abnormally hot weather during the trials with Oregon reaching a high of 116 degrees Fahrenheit June 27. The trials were even delayed a day due to the intense track surface temperature.
Keter placed in the top three alongside friend and former Soldier-athlete, Hillary Bor.
“At the last 400 meters, when I saw we were making the team together, I used the same mentality we have in practice, ‘my teammate is right here and we will finish it together’,” said Keter.
Bor, a 2016 Olympian, still trains with Keter and is excited to compete with him in Tokyo.
“This means a lot,” said Bor. “It is always a great feeling when you make the cut with your teammate, the person you train with every day. I am happy for Keter.”
WCAP’s commander, Cpt. Robert Cheseret, and Keter’s former coach, said that when Keter first joined WCAP in 2018, he worked to run a USA Track and Field nationals qualifying time in just six months.
“He is always motivated and his work ethic is phenomenal,” said Cheseret. “He was ranked 4th overall going into the trials so I knew his chances of making the Olympic team were very good.”
Keter comes from a family of Olympians. His brother, Tareq Mubarak Taher, competed in steeplechase at 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics representing Bahrain.
“When I told my mom I made the team, she was so excited she almost passed out,” Keter said.
Keter began his running career to help his family. He ran at Texas Tech University and after graduation he joined the Army to represent the country while still being able to compete in the sport he loved.
Keter is on his way to the 2020 Summer Games along with 11 other WCAP Soldier-athletes:
- 1st Lt. Amber English, shooting
- Sgt. 1st Class Elizabeth Marks, para swimming
- Staff Sgt. Sandra Uptagrafft, shooting
- Staff Sgt. Nickolaus Mowrer, shooting
- Staff Sgt. Naomi Graham, boxing
- Staff Sgt. Kevin Nguyen, para shooting
- Sgt. John Wayne Joss, para shooting
- Sgt. Amro Elgeziry, modern pentathlon
- Sgt. Samantha Schultz, modern pentathlon
- Sgt. Ildar Hafizov, wrestling
- Spc. Alejandro Sancho, wrestling
WCAP also has three coaches on Team USA: Sgt. Terrence Jennings, taekwondo; Sgt. 1st Class. Dennis Bowsher, modern pentathlon; and Staff Sgt. Spenser Mango, wrestling.
The 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan are July 23-Aug. 8 and the Paralympic Games are Aug. 23-Sept. 5.
To catch all the action of the Soldier-athletes’ journey to Tokyo, follow the U.S. Army WCAP pages on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. For more information, visit www.armywcap.com.