For four Americans of Kenyan descent, the road to U.S. citizenship—and the Olympics —is paved with service.The soldier-runners, who were all born and raised in Kenya, decided to join the US Army in order to serve their adoptive country, secure citizenship and compete in their chosen sport. Paul Chelimo, from Iten, Kenya, raced for the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and joined the US Army in May of 2014. He is a water-treatment specialist and will compete in the 5,000 meters.Leonard Korir is also from Iten, Kenya, and is a two-time NCAA champion. He is a motor transportation operator and is expected to compete in the 10,000 meters.
Shadrack Kipchirchir hails from Eldoret, Kenya and is a financial management technician. He is also competing in the 10,000 meter trials, after being an All-American at Oklahoma State.Finally, Hillary Bor, a Sergeant, and one of three Kenyan brothers who all enlisted in the Army, will be running in the 3,000 meter steeplechase. The Kenyans join more than a dozen soldier-athletes, based at the Army’s World Class Athlete Program, which is headquartered at Fort Carson, Colorado, who are competing this summer. Three coaches are also making the trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.Hillary Bor nearly deployed to Afghanistan in February. His brother, Julius, who is in the same unit, instead volunteered in his place, in order for his older brother to compete at Rio.Bor’s running career, which was put on hold after joining the Army, was rekindled when he ran the timed two-mile physical fitness test run in a decently fast time. Ten minutes flat, to be exact.“Going through the Army training, that made me mentally strong. Going to the race I use the Army training and I think that’s helpful to have me compete at the highest level,” Bor said in an interview with WSLS 10 of Virginia.