Soldier-Athletes Shine at Tokyo Paralympics

Soldier-Athletes Shine at Tokyo Paralympics mtan-admin Tue, 09/07/2021 - 12:49 From retired Maj. Shawn Morelli’s first medal for Team USA in track cycling to Sgt. 1st Class Elizabeth Marks’ record-breaking gold medal performance, soldier-athletes shone at the Tokyo Paralympics. Three active-duty soldiers and at least 16 veterans from across the services represented Team USA at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, which concluded Sept. 5. In total, Team USA’s active-duty or former service members brought home nine medals. Morelli, who served as an Army engineer officer, took silver in the 3,000-meter C4 individual pursuit cycling event and gold in the women’s C4 time trial. “Thank you all who got me here,” Morelli said after winning gold Aug. 31. “Today was a hard fought day filled with adversity,” Morelli wrote on Twitter after taking silver Aug. 25. “I am grateful to be able to p[er]form and come home with Silver. Thank you to all my friends, family, coaches and sponsors.” Retired Staff Sgt. Freddie De Los Santos won a bronze medal in the mixed cycling team relay. “Cycling has become my coping mechanism to deal with my anxiety, my PTSD. So, that sense, it has given me a new way of life,” De Los Santos told VeloNews. “It has been the most rewarding experience to be able to compete at this level, despite my disability. Staff Sgts. John Joss and Kevin Nguyen also represented the U.S. and the Army through the World Class Athlete Program. In the mixed 50-meter rifle prone event Sept. 4, Nguyen placed 20th and Joss placed 29th, according to Olympic results. Marks, a trailblazer as the Army’s first Paralympic swimmer in the service’s elite World Class Athlete Program, performed in all her events and accounted for one-third of the medals service members won during the Paralympics. Marks, who won a gold and a bronze in the 2016 Paralympics, broke the world record in the women’s 100-meter backstroke by two seconds on her way to the gold medal in Tokyo. She also won the silver medal in the 50-meter freestyle and the bronze in the 50-meter butterfly. Maj. Nathaniel Garcia, who photographed Marks as she took in her gold medal performance, celebrated her win on Instagram. “Four years of hard work, blood, sweat and tears captured in one moment,” he wrote. “You have made your country proud.” “Thank you to everyone in my corner,” Marks wrote in an Instagram post after she won bronze in the 50-meter butterfly. “You’ll never understand how impossible these moments would be without you.” Image Image Credit U.S. Army/Maj. Nathaniel Garcia Lead In Their Achievements Include a World Record, Gold Medals and More Publication Date Tue, 09/07/2021 - 13:50 Tags Headline news NCO Army athletes World Class Athlete Program Members Only Off

Soldier-Athletes Shine at Tokyo Paralympics
Soldier-Athletes Shine at Tokyo Paralympics mtan-admin Tue, 09/07/2021 - 12:49

From retired Maj. Shawn Morelli’s first medal for Team USA in track cycling to Sgt. 1st Class Elizabeth Marks’ record-breaking gold medal performance, soldier-athletes shone at the Tokyo Paralympics.

Three active-duty soldiers and at least 16 veterans from across the services represented Team USA at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, which concluded Sept. 5.

In total, Team USA’s active-duty or former service members brought home nine medals.

Morelli, who served as an Army engineer officer, took silver in the 3,000-meter C4 individual pursuit cycling event and gold in the women’s C4 time trial.

“Thank you all who got me here,” Morelli said after winning gold Aug. 31.

“Today was a hard fought day filled with adversity,” Morelli wrote on Twitter after taking silver Aug. 25. “I am grateful to be able to p[er]form and come home with Silver. Thank you to all my friends, family, coaches and sponsors.”

Retired Staff Sgt. Freddie De Los Santos won a bronze medal in the mixed cycling team relay.

“Cycling has become my coping mechanism to deal with my anxiety, my PTSD. So, that sense, it has given me a new way of life,” De Los Santos told VeloNews. “It has been the most rewarding experience to be able to compete at this level, despite my disability.

Staff Sgts. John Joss and Kevin Nguyen also represented the U.S. and the Army through the World Class Athlete Program. In the mixed 50-meter rifle prone event Sept. 4, Nguyen placed 20th and Joss placed 29th, according to Olympic results.

Marks, a trailblazer as the Army’s first Paralympic swimmer in the service’s elite World Class Athlete Program, performed in all her events and accounted for one-third of the medals service members won during the Paralympics.

Marks, who won a gold and a bronze in the 2016 Paralympics, broke the world record in the women’s 100-meter backstroke by two seconds on her way to the gold medal in Tokyo. She also won the silver medal in the 50-meter freestyle and the bronze in the 50-meter butterfly.

Maj. Nathaniel Garcia, who photographed Marks as she took in her gold medal performance, celebrated her win on Instagram.

“Four years of hard work, blood, sweat and tears captured in one moment,” he wrote. “You have made your country proud.”

“Thank you to everyone in my corner,” Marks wrote in an Instagram post after she won bronze in the 50-meter butterfly. “You’ll never understand how impossible these moments would be without you.”

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Sgt. 1st Class Elizabeth Marks wins gold at Tokyo Paralympics.
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U.S. Army/Maj. Nathaniel Garcia
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Their Achievements Include a World Record, Gold Medals and More
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