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Army Olympians Prepare for Beijing

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 30, 2008 – Nine U.S. Army soldiers will take aim at Olympic gold in Beijing.

The soldier-Olympians are wrapping up their training throughout the United States and will depart for China in August.

Among the elite athletes is three-time Olympian Staff Sgt. Libby Callahan, a 23-year Army Reserve soldier, who at age 56 will earn the distinction of being the oldest U.S. woman Olympian ever to compete and stands a chance of becoming the oldest woman Olympic medalist ever at the Summer Games.

"It's an honor to represent the country I am proud to serve," said Callahan, who will compete in the women's sports pistol event. "The Army has not only provided me with the training and opportunities to succeed, it has given me the encouragement I need to go for the gold at the Olympics.”

Staff Sgt. Dremiel Byers, a member of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program, is ranked No. 1 in the United States in his weight class for Greco-Roman wrestling and earned a spot on the 2008 Olympic Team by winning the trials held in Las Vegas in June. Byers said the Army provides the training and opportunities to succeed. “We're very fortunate to do what we do,” he said. “I’ve been with the program since 1997, and now I get to represent my country in the Olympics. The Army allows you to dream big.”

Marksman Maj. Michael Anti will make his fourth Olympic appearance at the Beijing Games in the smallbore prone rifle competition. After earning a silver medal in the prone rifle event at the 2004 Games, Anti purchased a silver Corvette. His goal is to upgrade to a new gold model to match the medal he hopes to earn at the 2008 Games.

The soldiers, including track and field athletes, world-class boxers, marksmen and more, are the latest in a storied line of 644 Army athletes who have participated in the Games since 1948.

“We coach elite-level athletes who already have a high level of discipline from their Army experience.” said Capt. Dominic Black, commander of the Army's World Class Athlete Program. “By providing these athletes with the best training, coaching, equipment and overall support, the Army is preparing them for victory at the Olympics and beyond.”

Other soldier-athletes representing the United States at the 2008 Summer Olympics are:

-- Sgt. 1st Class Jason Parker -- air rifle and three-position rifle;

-- Sgt. 1st Class Daryl Szarenski -- men’s 50-meter free pistol;

-- Pfc. Vincent Hancock -- skeet;

-- Spc. Jeffrey Holguin -- double trap;

-- Spc. Walton Glenn Eller III -- double trap; and

-- U.S. Military Academy Cadet Stephen Scherer -- air rifle.

The Army’s World Class Athlete Program is composed of soldier-athletes in a variety of sports who demonstrate the potential to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team. Soldier-athletes who apply to the program must have recently attained a high national ranking or placed high at a major national or international event. Soldiers in the WCAP have earned 131 Olympic medals since 1948.

The Army Marksmanship Unit, which is sending six shooters to Beijing, has gained worldwide respect by winning hundreds of individual and team national shooting titles, more than 40 world championships and 21 Olympic medals. Since the AMU was established in 1956, its shooters have won more than half of all medals earned by U.S. shooters.

(From a U.S. Army news release.)

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