Olympians' military background gives them an edge

February 7, 2018

There’s a notable military presence on the U.S. Olympic bobsled and luge teams. Four bobsledders, three lugers and two coaches are servicemembers.

Those military ties give them an edge, said bobsledder Nick Cunningham.

“Knowing that we have the support of the military behind us, kind of gives us a psychological edge over our competition. Everyone else has their country and community and family; we have country, community, family and the U.S. military backing up. I’m going in pretty confident into this competition,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham has the most experience of Team USA’s three bobsled drivers; this will be his third Olympic Games. The rest of his four-man bobsled team — Hakeen Abdul-Sanoor, Christopher Kinney and Sam Michener — are making their Olympic debuts; Abdul-Sanoor and Cunningham also qualified in two-man bobsled.

Cunningham’s experience can be beneficial to his teammates. “I’m able to go in there and tell them what to expect, how again to work with the media, work with training times, track times, just how things work with the (Olympic) Village and whatnot. … The goal was not making the Olympic team, that was just a steppingstone to our goal. That’s what I’ve been trying to convey to them at this point,” he said.

Cunningham was a brakeman in the 2010 Olympics with driver Mike Kohn, who’s now a coach of the team. Kohn introduced Cunningham, then a civilian, to the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program (WCAP).

“I was not looking at the military whatsoever, and he told me about it,” Cunningham said. “There had to be somebody that had something negative to say about this program somewhere, and everybody I talked to only had such positive things to say about the WCAP program, and that’s when I went to a meeting to learn a little bit more information about it, and within two months I was going to basic training and wanting to be a part of this program.

“…One of the cool things about this program is going into an Olympics and knowing that, yes, I’m competing for the United States of America, but when you know that you’re representing so much more than just that competition, I get to represent everyone, beyond even the Army, all of our armed forces...

Read entire article at The American Legion.


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