Two Soldier-athletes from Kenya represented the U.S. Army as members of Team USA in the men’s 10,000-meter run on Saturday, Aug. 13, at the 2016 Olympic Games.
Spcs. Leonard Korir and Shadrack Kipchirchir said they were proud to share the track that day with the world’s best runners. Both Soldiers ran their season-best times, with Korir finishing 14th in 27:29.40 and Kipchirchir in 19th place with a time of 27:36.79.
Defending champion Mohamed Farah of Great Britain won the race in 27 minutes, 5.17 seconds, followed by silver medalist Paul Kipngetich Tanui (27:05.64) of Kenya and bronze medalist Tamirat Tola (27:06.17) of Ethiopia.
“When you see Mo Farah on the line, you know it’s going to be a great competition,” said Korir, 29, a native of Iten, Kenya, after the race. “I was happy about it. One day I will be saying I ran with Mo Farah in the 10,000.”
The 27-year-old Kipchirchir, a native of Eldoret, Kenya said he kept pace with the race’s leaders until they had five kilometers left to go.
“My goal was to go with them for as long as I could, and that’s what I did, but my gas ran out,” he admitted.
The two Soldier-Olympians have come a long way. Both emigrated from Kenya to attend college in America, where they earned their degrees and became American citizens. After joining the Army World Class Athlete Program, both earned spots on Team USA at the Olympic Trials.
“It’s been great being in the Army,” said Kipchirchir, who competed in college for Western Kentucky and Oklahoma State. “The time they give me to train and all the equipment they give me to train, I’m grateful. They give me all the support I ask.”
As Soldier-athletes, Korir and Kipchirchir are demonstrating Army Soldiers are more than just war-fighters with their achievements at international competitions like the Olympics, Pan American Games, the CISM Military Games, and the World Championships.
“I just want to give a shout out to my battle buddies out there,” Kipchirchir said. “I just want to run for them, and that’s what I did here. It is all about them.”
With his competition completed at the Rio Games, Korir said he will continue to embrace the mission of being a “Soldier first.”
“At the moment, I’m just now in the Army,” Korir said. “I like being in the Army. It’s something I’ve wanted since I was young.”
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