This article originally appeared on the Military Officers Association of America website. MOAA is the nation’s largest association of military officers, serving all eight uniformed services.
The U.S. military will be well-represented during the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo later this month, as well as at the Paralympic Games in the same city in August. Here’s a quick look at some of the servicemembers taking part, courtesy of information provided by DoD and the Army’s World Class Athlete Program (WCAP), among other sources:
- 1st Lt. Amber English (women’s skeet) joined the Army Marksmanship Unit in 2017 after missing the cut for the 2012 Olympics and serving as a 2016 Olympic alternate. She has four shooting World Cup medals to her credit, including a silver from 2018.
- 1st Lt. Sam Kendricks (pole vault) took bronze in the 2016 Olympics and made headlines for stopping mid-run during the playing of the U.S. national anthem.
- Staff Sgt. Naomi Graham (women’s boxing, 75-kilogram) took silver in the 2019 Pan-American Games but was later awarded the gold when the top finisher was disqualified after a positive doping test.
- Staff Sgt. Nickolaus Mowrer and Staff Sgt. Sandra Uptagrafft, a former Navy Reserve member, will compete in multiple shooting disciplines: Mowrer in the 10-meter air pistol, men and mixed team, as well as the 50-meter rifle 3 positions; and Uptagrafft in the 10-meter air pistol, women’s and mixed team, along with the 25-meter sport pistol.
- Other shooting stars for Team USA include Sgt. Patrick Sunderman (men’s smallbore rifle), Spc. Sagen Maddalena (women’s smallbore rifle), Spc. Alison Weisz (women’s air rifle), and Sgt. Philip Jungman (men’s skeet).
- Three-time Olympian Sgt. Amro Elgeziry (modern pentathlon) will make his fourth trip to Summer Olympics and his first since joining the Army in 2017. His wife and two brothers are also Olympic pentathletes.
- Sgt. Samantha Schultz (modern pentathlon) was a 2016 Olympic alternate. She and Elgeziry will be looking to surpass the modern pentathlon performance of another U.S. Olympian with an Army background: George Patton took fifth in the event in Stockholm in 1912.
- The Army’s wrestling contingent includes Sgt. Ildar Hafizov (Greco-Roman, 60-kilogram) and Spc. Alejandro Sancho (Greco-Roman, 67-kilogram).
- Spc. Benard Keter (3,000-meter steeplechase), runner-up in the 2019 Army Ten-Miler, joined the service in 2016.
- Four active-duty soldiers, all part of the WCAP program, will serve as Team USA coaches: Sgt. 1st Class Dennis Bowsher (modern pentathlon), Staff Sgt. Spenser Mango (Greco-Roman wrestling), and Sgt. Terrence Jennings (Taekwondo).
- Paralympic soldier athletes include Sgt. 1st Class Elizabeth Marks (50-meter freestyle, 50-meter butterfly, 200-meter individual medley, 100-meter backstroke), who took a gold and a bronze in Rio in 2016 and earned headlines after her brush with royalty (in the form of England’s Prince Harry) at the Invictus Games that same year. She’ll be joined by shooters Staff Sgt. John Joss and Staff Sgt. Kevin Nguyen, who will both participate in the 50-meter rifle event.
- Staff Sgt. John Stefanowicz (Greco-Roman wrestling, 87-kilogram) joined the Marines out of high school in 2009. The Olympics will mark a homecoming, of sorts — he told Stars and Stripes that he visited the capital during his service on Okinawa in the early 2010s.
- An improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in 2011 left Lt. Brad Snyder blind and led to his medical retirement from service. His Paralympic swimming career already includes Olympic hardware from two continents: Two golds and a silver from London 2012, and three golds and a silver from Rio 2016. This year, he’ll move to the paratriathlon, a 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike, and 5-kilometer run.
- Lt. Nikole Barnes (470-class sailboat), shown here as a lieutenant junior grade in Miami in 2020, reportedly will be the first active Coast Guard member to compete in an Olympics when she sets sail in Tokyo. The U.S. Virgin Islands native graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 2017 and has been sailing since age 6. Barnes and sailing partner Lara Dallman-Weiss finished seventh in a qualifying event in Portugal in March to lock down an Olympic spot.