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Eastler, Nunn Earn Olympic Race Walk Respect for U.S. Military

By Tim Hipps
Special to American Forces Press Service

ATHENS, Greece, Aug. 20, 2004 – Air Force Capt. Kevin Eastler and Army Sgt. John Nunn finished 21st and 26th respectively Aug. 20 in the men's 20-kilometer race walk, the opening athletics event in the 2004 Summer Olympic Games.

Italy's Ivano Brugnetti won the gold medal with a personal-best time of 1 hour, 19 minutes and 40 seconds. Spain's Franciso Javier Fernandez took the silver. Australia's Nathan Deakes won the bronze medal.

Tim Seaman, 32, of Chula Vista, Calif., finished 20th in 1:25.17, the fastest time posted by an American in this event in Olympic competition.

In Athens, all three Americans executed their strategy by starting near the back of the 48-walker pack and passing people throughout the race.

Eastler finished on Seaman's heels. Nunn, a member of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program, entered Olympic Stadium a couple minutes later to complete a strong performance by the American trio.

"In track and field, people get excited and they underestimate their fitness and the weather conditions; we knew that would happen," Eastler said. "That's why we started off in the very back because we were never off pace. We just stuck to our game plan. ... If I had to go back and do it again, I'd do it the exact same way."

"I was able to stay on my pace for just over half the race, but the second half just got me," said Nunn, 26, of Evansville, Ind. "I faltered a little and couldn't get it back. My legs felt a little bit like bricks towards the end. Mentally, I felt like I had it but I just couldn't get the turnover in my legs to kick back in."

Easter, 26, a missile combat crew commander at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colo., is in charge of the operations, maintenance and security of 10 nuclear missiles. A 1999 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, he works 24- hour shifts, which makes training for the Olympics a monumental task.

"It can be a stressful job," he said. "I'm always on call, but I wouldn't be here without the support of the Air Force World Class Athlete Program. They paid for my travel and my training, so I have to give them a lot of credit."

Nunn, who credits the Army's WCAP in the same fashion, said he wants to compete again in the 2008 Beijing Games.

(Tim Hipps is assigned to the Army Community and Family Support Center Public Affairs Office.)

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