Gold medalist enlists with National Guard


Lt. Col. Steve Rowe enlists Olympic gold medalist Justin Olsen into the New York National Guard. (Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Steven Petibone)

The New York National Guard’s newest soldier is bringing a bit of gold to the Army.

Olympic gold medalist Justin Olsen enlisted during a ceremony Jan. 9 – and then flew to Europe to resume the World Cup bobsled season.

Olsen, a private first class, will train as a human resources specialist. He also plans to apply for the Army World Class Athlete Program, which allows soldiers to juggle their military commitment with training and competitions.

“I hope to be selected and, as a soldier-athlete, I hope that I can give back as much to the program as they are giving me,” Olsen said in a news release. “My plans are to continue to earn medals and make a name for my sport and the program.”

Olsen won gold as part of the four-man bobsled team at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, the first top finish for Americans in that event since 1948.

His enlistment follows the path of other Olympic bobsledders. One of Olsen’s teammates, Steven Holcomb, is a former Utah National Guardsman.

John Napier deployed to Afghanistan with the Vermont National Guard after driving the U.S.’ other sled during the Olympics. Another Guardsman, Lt. John Fogt, competed as a breakman on Napier’s sled.

Olsen first learned of the program from teammate Mike Kohn, who serves as an infantryman in the Virginia National Guard.

“He just sat me down and talked to me about it and said, ‘Think about what you want to do with the sport and what you want to do with your career,'” Olsen said. “I’ve thought about it for a long time, and now is the right time for me.”


About Author

Leave A Reply