Whatʼs more patriotic than a military service member? A service member who is also an American Olympian. At Sochi, there are six such super-patriots, active-duty members of the U.S. Army fighting to bring honor to our country in a whole new way.
These athletes are part of the U.S. Armyʼs World Class Athlete Program (WCAP), which trains and supports “outstanding soldier-athletes” so that they may compete at a national and international level while promoting the U.S. Army around the world. Since 1948, there have been WCAP members at both summer and winter Olympic games both as athletes and coaches and heave earned 111 medals. WCAP was founded in 1997 and, since then, there have been 55 soldier-athletes who have won every color of medal. Soldiers are either trained in military facilities, if they have them, or the soldier is assigned to live near an Olympic training facility.
This year, the six soldier-athletes representing the United States are competing in the sports of bobsled and luge. The bobsled team features Captain Chris Fogt, who also competed in the 2010 Winter Olympics before deploying to Iraq for 2011, and Sergeant Nicholas Cunningham. Sergeant Justin Olsen took home the gold in 2010 as part of the four-man bobsled team, and is back this year to do it again. Sergeant Preston Griffall and Sergeant Matt Mortensen are representing the United States on the luge.
Captain Fogt believes that his military training comes in handy in bobsledding.
“I try to apply the warrior ethos and mentality of never quitting or accepting defeat in my training and competitions,” said Captain Chris Fogt in his online biography. “Being a soldier-athlete helps keep me focused and working hard because I am representing more than just my team and myself. Iʼm representing the most powerful and respected organization in the world. I need to reflect that in the way I present myself, train, and perform.”
For these soldiers, it is about representing America.
“I feel a tremendous amount of pride to be able to represent my country in two very honorable positions. I get to compete among the elite and serve my country,” said Sergeant Nicholas Cunningham.
Best of luck to our soldier-athletes! You already make us proud.