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Soldiers Contribute to Record U.S. Olympic Haul

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Department of Defense
Monday, August 22, 2016

Soldier-athletes made a small contribution to a record medals haul for the United States in the recent 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Spc. Paul Chelimo, a water-treatment specialist with a little over two years in uniform, had the best performance among the soldiers who competed in the games, winning a silver medal in the 5,000-meter track race—but not without a bit of controversy.

The five-time NCAA All-American, a member of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program, initially was disqualified because he made contact with another runner during the event. But he won an appeal and was reinstated as the official second-place finisher. On his Twitter feed, Chelimo said he was happy to have won “after all the fracas out there.”

He was the first American male to medal in the 5,000-meter race since 1964.

Second Lt. Sam Kendricks, an Army Reserve officer, took a bronze medal in the pole vault, the best finish by an American in that event since 2004, clearing the bar at 19 feet, 2¼ inches.

Along with winning a medal, Kendricks became an internet sensation for a viral video that shows him coming to a sudden stop halfway down the pole-vault runway to stand at attention when the U.S. national anthem played for another medal awards ceremony.

Here are the results for the other soldiers who competed in the 2016 Olympic Games (listed by rank):

  • Sgt. 1st Class Walton Glenn Eller III, an infantryman, finished 14th in the double trap event. “It wasn’t the best day,” he said afterward on his Twitter page. This was Eller’s fifth Olympics; he took a gold medal in the men’s double trap in the 2008 games.
  • Sgt. 1st Class Michael McPhail, an infantryman, finished 19th in the men’s 50-meter rifle prone competition.
  • Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Richmond, an infantryman, finished eighth in the double trap event, narrowly missing the finals in a shoot-off.
  •  Sgt. 1st Class Keith Sanderson, an infantryman, finished ninth in the 25-meter rapid-fire pistol-shooting event, just missing the finals.
  • Staff Sgt. John Nunn, a dental specialist, finished 43rd in the men’s 50-km race-walk.
  • Sgt. Hillary Bor, a financial management technician, finished eighth in the steeplechase event.
  • Sgt. Nathan Schrimsher, a motor transport specialist, finished 11th in the modern pentathlon, which consists of fencing, swimming, cross-country running, horse jumping and a run-and-shoot event.
  • Spc. Leonard Korir, a motor transport operator, finished 14th and Spc. Shadrack Kipchirchir, a financial management technician, finished 19th in the men's 10,000-meter run.
  • Spc. Daniel Lowe, in his first Olympics, finished 34th in the men’s 10-meter air rifle competition and 28th in the men’s 50-meter rifle three positions event.

Team USA finished with a total of 121 medals, 51 more than second-place China—the largest medals margin in a non-boycotted Olympics since 1932, when the U.S. beat Italy by 67 medals. Team USA also topped its own previous Olympics medal record of 110, set in Beijing in 2008.

Two soldiers will compete for Team USA in the upcoming 2016 Paralympics in Rio in September: Staff Sgt. Michael Lukow, an infantryman, will compete in the archery recurve bow event. Lukow lost his right foot while serving in Iraq. And Sgt. Elizabeth Marks, a health care specialist, will compete in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke swim. She suffered severe bilateral hip injuries while serving in Iraq.