When the world’s greatest athletes assemble in Tokyo for the Summer Olympic Games later this month, 19 service members will be helping represent the United States.
In a news release Monday, the Defense Department said that the U.S. Olympic team will include 17 soldiers, a Marine and a Coast Guardsman. That is a handful more than the 16 service members who represented the U.S. in Rio de Janeiro during the 2016 games.
The Olympics, which were postponed from last summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will take place from July 23 to Aug. 8.
Staff Sgt. Naomi Graham will make history this year when she becomes the first female active-duty service member to compete for the U.S. in boxing at the Olympics. She will compete in the 75-kilogram weight class.
The team also counts Paralympians, including Army Sgt. 1st Class Elizabeth Marks, who will compete in multiple swimming categories. Marks won a gold medal in the 2016 Paralympics in the 100-meter breaststroke, and a bronze in the 100-meter medley.
The DoD said Marks enlisted in 2008 as a combat medic and was injured in Iraq. She fell in love with swimming while doing it as therapy at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas.
Army Staff Sgts. John Joss and Kevin Nguyen will compete in the Paralympics’ 50-meter rifle event, and Coast Guard Lt. Nikole Barnes will put her sailing skills to use in the women’s 470-class sailboat category, the release said.
Barnes said that her love of sailing helped her find a calling serving in the Coast Guard.
“I am always on the water, and the allure of creating a safer environment for fellow boaters was a big intrigue for me,” she said.
The other soldiers competing in the Olympics include:
- 1st Lt. Amber English, women’s skeet, 75 kilogram
- Staff Sgt. Nickolaus Mowrer, men’s 10-meter air pistol; mixed team 10-meter air pistol; and three-position 50-meter rifle competition
- Staff Sgt. Sandra Uptagrafft, women’s 10-meter air pistol; mixed team 10-meter air pistol; and 25-meter sport pistol
- Sgt. Samantha Schultz, modern pentathlon
- Sgt. Amro Elgeziry, modern pentathlon
- Sgt. Ildar Hafizov, Greco-Roman wrestling, 60-kilogram category
- Spc. Alejandro Sancho, Greco-Roman wrestling, 67-kilogram category
- Spc. Benard Keter, 3,000-meter steeplechase
- Sgt. Patrick Sunderman, men’s smallbore rifle
- Spc. Sagen Maddalena, women’s smallbore rifle
- Spc. Alison Weisz, women’s air rifle
- Sgt. Philip Jungman, men’s skeet
- 1st Lt. Sam Kendricks, pole vaulting
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