When the 2012 Summer Olympics begin in London, 11 members of the United States Army – seven athletes and four coaches – will be amongst the 530 members of the American contingent. The Olympians are part of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program, headquartered at Fort Carson, Colorado, not from the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
Headed to the world’s most important athletic event of the year are:
Major David Johnson – Rifle Head Coach
Staff Sergeant Basheer Abdullah – Boxing Head Coach
Staff Sergeant Charles Leverette – Boxing Assistant Coach
Staff Sergeant Joe Guzman – Boxing Assistant Coach
Sergeant First Class Daryl Szarenski - Shooting
Sergeant First Class Dremiel Byers – Wrestling
Sergeant First Class Keith Sanderson – Shooting
Sergeant John Nunn – Track and Field
Sergeant Spencer Mango – Wrestling
Specialist Justin Lester – Wrestling
Specialist Dennis Bowsher – Modern Pentathlon
The Army Olympians are expected to do well in front of the worldwide audience at the London Games, most notably SFC Byers, who is the most decorated American Greco Roman wrestler in history and the only American to ever achieve the status of World Champion and World Military Champion. Staff Sergeant Nunn who won the 50K race walk at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, SPC Lester, the winner of his weight class at the 2012 trials and 2011 U.S. National Champion and four-time Olympic Team Member SFC Szarenski are also Olympic medal hopefuls.
Since the first Olympics after World War II, over 600 American soldier-athletes and coaches have competed in both the Winter and Summer Olympics and by doing so, have amassed over 150 Olympic medals. Coincidentally, the first Olympics after the Second World War in 1948 was also held in London. This year’s premier athletic event marks the third time that Great Britain’s greatest city has hosted the Olympics.
According to the U.S. Army website, all members of the Army (Active, Reserve and National Guard) are offered the same opportunity in the selection process. Soldiers with Olympic potential are assigned in the following sports: Boxing, fencing, modern pentathlon, rowing, shooting, track and field, triathlon, taekwondo, wrestling, biathlon, bobsled and skeleton.
The London Olympics begins on Friday, July 27th. Tens of thousands of spectators will be on hand and hundreds of millions will be watching much of the action on television. While Americans will be rooting for all of its members of the 2012 Olympic team, special consideration should be given to our Army soldiers who will be representing our nation with pride and distinction on the biggest athletic event on the planet. Go ARMY!