This year’s 2016 USA Olympic team included 18 military athletes. They represented all four major services: Army (14); Navy (2); Marines (1); and Air Force (1).
The sports in which they competed included a total of 15 different events: six track and field; five shooting; and four others.
The six track and field events included: 100-dash; 5,000- and 10,000-meter races; pole vault; 3,000-meter steeple chase; and a 50-meter race walk.
The five shooting events consisted of air rifle; double trap shotgun; three-position prone rifle; 50-meter prone rifle; and the 25 meter rapid fire pistol.
And finally, there was one athlete on each of a rowing team member, 100-meter breaststroke, recurve bow (archery), and the modern pentathlon. The pentathlon consists of fencing, swimming, equestrian show jumping, cross-country running and pistol shooting.
Two members of Team USA won medals. Army Spc. Paul Chelimo won the Silver Medal in the 5,000-meter race and Army 2nd Lt. Sam Kendricks won the Bronze Medal in the Pole Vault.
Two servicemembers participated in the 2016 Paralympic Games. Army Staff Sgt. Michael Lukow won a Bronze Medal for the recurve bow event and Army Sgt. Elizabeth Marks swam the 100-meter breaststroke but did not medal.
However, Marks did make her mark by winning medals at the 2016 Invictus Games in early July, 2016.
The Invictus Games are an international Paralympic-style multi-sport event, created by Britain’s Prince Harry, in which wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel and their associated veterans take part in sports including wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, swimming, and indoor rowing. Named after Invictus, Latin for “unconquered” or “undefeated” the event was inspired by the Warrior Games, a similar event held in the United States. The first Invictus Games took place in 2014 at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, United Kingdom.
Sgt. Marks is one tough combat medic. In 2010, she received a bilateral hip injury while serving in Afghanistan. And she nearly died in 2014 from a respiratory infection. It was so severe that she was forced into a medically induced coma that lasted almost two months in a London hospital.
But she won four Gold Medals at the Invictus Games for various swimming events. And she gave one of her medals to Prince Harry, asking him to give it to members of the Papworth Hospital staff who saved her life.
If I just had one medal I would have given it to that hospital.”
She went on to describe the various hospitals she had been in while recovering from her infection.
Explaining on why it was important for her to donate her medal, Marks explained:
Of course, Prince Harry’s country, the UK, saved my life, and saving my life meant a great deal to me. I’ve known Prince Harry since the Warrior Games in 2013, but I wanted to be able to shake his hand and thank him for all his country had done for me.”
Army Sgt. Marks, Spc. Paul Chelimo, 2nd Lt. Sam Kendricks, and all of the other servicemembers of Team USA made America proud with their participation in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this year.