Four Kenyan-born athletes who serve in the United States Army will also make a trip to Rio this summer to take part in the Olympic games.
The four runners all earned citizenship by joining the U.S. Army and taking part in the Arm’s World Class Athlete Program which was originally created in 1997 and is headquartered in Fort Carson, Colorado to help military athletes compete at top levels.
All four of the Kenyan-born athletes qualified for the Olympics during the United States Olympic trials in July in several distance events, including the 10,000 meter run, the 5,000 meter run and the 3,000 meter steeplechase.
Spc. Leonard Korir was born in Iten, Kenya and became a two-time NCAA champion at Iona College. He then joined the Army in 2015 as a motor transportation operator and will now take part in the 10,000 meter run in the Olympics.
Army Spc. Paul Chelimo, who is also from Iten, Kenya ran at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and joined the Army in 2014 as a water treatment specialist. He take part the 5,000 meter run in Rio.
Army sergeant Hillary Bor moved to the United States as a teenager from Eldoret, Kenya and was a four time All-American at Iowa State. He then joined the Army in 2013 and will be running the 3,000 meter steeplechase in the Olympics.
Spc. Shadrack Kipchirchir, also from Eldoret, was an All-American runner at Oklahoma State University and enlisted in the Army in 2014 as a financial management technician. He will be running the 10,000 meter in Rio.
— U.S. Army (@USArmy) August 1, 2016
“It’s a pretty humbling moment to think that somebody would want to leave their country and come to yours and do so to the degree in which they would die for something they haven’t even been a part of yet,” WCAP supervisor Army Capt. Matthew Hickey told the Associated Press. “WCAP provides a lot to the U.S. Army — we help train soldiers, help make more ready and resilient troops.”
Hickey added that at any moment the Kenyan-born runners could possibly be deployed and would have to give up their Olympic dreams.
“If all hell broke loose, everybody in the U.S. Army is a soldier first and expected to go deploy and defend the country,” he said.
Army Spc. Chelimo said that he puts the Army first before the Olympics.
“Whatever happens from now to the Olympics, into the future, I’m here to follow the orders,” Chelimo told the Associated Press.