Home News 20 military athletes who are also Olympians

20 military athletes who are also Olympians


Paul Chelimo, Army:

paul-chelimo-560x350Army Spc. Paul Chelimo leads a pack of runners. Army photo by Tim Hipps

Spc. Paul Chelimo, 25, is another Kenyan native who joined the U.S. Army in 2013 after graduating as a track star at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Chelimo finished third at the Olympic trials this year in the men’s 5,000-meter run with a time of 13 minutes, 35.92 seconds. As an Army water purification specialist, Chelimo one day hopes to set up a water treatment plant in his native country.

Shadrack Kipchirchir & Leonard Korir, Army:

kipchirchir-korirLeft: Army Spc. Shadrack Kipchirchir. Army photo by Tim Hipps
Right: Army Spc. Leonard Korir. Army photo by David Vergun

Spcs. Shadrack Kipchirchir and Leonard Korir both made the Olympic team in the 10,000-meter run, finishing second and third, respectively, at the U.S. trials. Kipchirchir, 27, and Korir, 29, are also from Kenya.

Kipchirchir moved to the U.S. to attend college, where he first started running competitively. He joined the Army in 2014 and works as a financial management technician when he’s off the track. Korir moved to the U.S. in 2009 and ran several track events at Iona College, where he was an eight-time NCAA All-American. He joined the Army in 2015, where he serves as a motor transport operator.

John Nunn, Army: 

john-nunn-420x350Army Staff Sgt. John Nunn will be a three-time Olympian race walker when he competes in Rio. Army photo by Tim Hipps

Staff Sgt. John Nunn, 38, of Evansville, Indiana, secured his spot in Rio by winning the 50-kilometer and 20-kilometer race walk trials (yes, that’s really a thing). It’s not his first rodeo, either. This will be his third Olympics, having competed in 2004 and 2012.

Nunn is a noncommissioned officer who works as a dental hygienist in the Army. He was formerly infantry. You might remember him from a segment of NBC’s “Today Show,” where he helped teach Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie and other news anchors how it was done.

And just for fun, here’s a military and Olympic veteran who also happens to be an icon:

David Robinson, Navy:

david-robinson-finalLeft: David Robinson backs down a defender during the U.S. Naval Academy men’s basketball alumni game Jan. 8, 2011. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Chad Runge. Right: Robinson poses on the forecastle of the battleship USS Iowa. Courtesy photo

To anyone who’s a basketball lover, this name is probably familiar to you. David Robinson, 50, was a famous center in the NBA for the San Antonio Spurs. He was also an original member of America’s Dream Team, helping the team win gold in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and again in Atlanta in 1996 (he helped win a bronze medal in Seoul, South Korea, in 1988 … but that’s been a bit overshadowed by the golds).

Robinson had the nickname “The Admiral” for a reason. He came from a Navy family and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in the 1980s. While he was drafted first overall by the Spurs in 1987, he didn’t play until 1989 because of his two years of active-duty service in the Navy. The time off from his basketball career didn’t affect his playing, though – he went on to become the NBA’s 1989 Rookie of the Year.

Nathan Schrimsher, Army:

nathan-schrimsher-finalArmy Spc. Nathan Schrimsher earns a third-place finish in the men’s modern pentathlon event at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto. Army photos by Tim Hipps

Sgt. Nathan Schrimsher, 24, of Roswell, New Mexico, might be the most well-rounded of all of this year’s military Olympians. He’ll be competing in the modern pentathlon, a five-sport, one-day event involving swimming, cross-country running, fencing, pistol shooting and equestrian show jumping. Schrimsher finished third while qualifying for the team at the Pan American Games in Toronto last year, and he posted the best performance of any U.S. male competitor in nearly a decade this past May while on the World Cup circuit.

Schrimsher joined the Army in 2013. He is currently a noncommissioned officer and serves as a motor transport operator. He’s also part of the Army World Class Athlete Program.

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