US Olympian quits to join military
A US Olympian has given up his dreams of bobsledding at the 2014 Winter Games to hopefully represent the country in another way -- as part of an elite military unit.
John Napier, 25, has been bobsledding since the age of eight and competed at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, but a tour of duty in Afghanistan convinced him to train for a different goal.
"I love it. I just love the military and the brotherhood and the camaraderie soldiers have for each other. The world of athletics -- it kind of gets a little selfish at times," Napier said.
As a bobsled pilot, he won gold and silver medals in the 2009 Lake Placid World Cup race, moving on to the 2010 US Olympic team.
"Although it was prideful, it's also very, very humbling to know that I was there amongst the world's best," Napier said.
Napier is already a soldier in the Vermont National Guard. After the 2010 Winter Olympics he joined his unit in Afghanistan, serving five months in the war-torn country.
"Since the age of eight I've been bobsledding and it's pretty much all I wanted to do with my life, until I went to Afghanistan that is, and not a day goes by that I haven't woken up and missed it," Napier said.
"It was a great honor. A lot of my motivation for wanting to serve more and wanting to get back into the military active duty is that so many people before me have done so much more.
"I'm just hoping to serve as another soldier."
His colleagues in the bobsledding world admit that they fear for his safety.
"Some of us tried to talk him into competing rather than representing our country in Afghanistan," US Bobsled and Skeleton Federation CEO Darrin Steele said.
"We're kind of a family when it comes to our team so we were concerned for his safety as any family member is when somebody gets deployed."
Napier knows, that at 25, that he cannot wait if he wants to join an elite fighting force.
"It's going to be the most difficult physical and mental and spiritual event in my life, and that's a lot of the reason I'm doing it: because I want to see what else I can achieve in life. I want to push myself to new bounds," Napier said.