WCAP athletes move closer to Summer Olympics qualification Published Oct. 20, 2023 By Craig Rodarte AFIMSC Public Affairs JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – With the 2024 Summer Olympics quickly approaching, 11 Airmen are still hoping to earn a spot on Team USA to compete in Paris. Athletes from the Department of the Air Force’s World Class Athlete Program continue competing and training for the global competition with five Airmen athletes already qualifying for Olympic trials. Air Force World Class Athlete Program pentathletes Maj. Phaelen French and Airman 1st Class Tyler Evans pose for a photo. Both athletes are in training for a position on Team USAA at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. (Courtesy photo) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res Air Force World Class Athlete Program wrestler Airman 1st Class Mitchell Brown talks with his coach during a training session in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Brown is training for a position on Team USA at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. (U.S. Air Force photo by Craig Z. Rodarte) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. – Air Force World Class Athlete Program athlete 1st Lt. Jaci Smith warms up in zero-gravity treadmill. Smith is training for a position on Team USA for the 2023 Summer Olympics in the 10,000 meters and marathon. (U.S. Air Force photo by Craig Z. Rodarte) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res “Our WCAP athletes are progressing well with their training while also representing the Air and Space Forces at competitions nationally and internationally,” said Dale Filsell, DAF WCAP program manager with the Air Force Services Center. “I could not be prouder of the hard work, dedication and grit every athlete has shown in their attempts to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team.” The athletes who have met Olympic trial qualifications and their home base and sport are: - Maj. Daniel Rich, San Antonio, shooting - Capt. Jaci Smith, Colorado Springs, Colorado, marathon - New recruit 2nd Lt. Wen Zhang, Phoenix, 200-meter freestyle swim - Senior Airman Michael Mannozzi, San Diego, 35-kilometer racewalking - Airman 1st Class Daniel Michalski, Colorado Springs, 3000-meter steeplechase Meeting Olympic trial qualifications requires dedication and hard work to maintain stamina and mental motivation. “The Olympic journey is all about being a self-starter and a self-leader,” said Rich. “You have family, friends, coaches and the WCAP team, but they can’t put the work in for you – that has to come from within.” The remaining five Airmen continue to compete around the world, with some Olympic qualifying events scheduled as late as June 2024, just weeks before the opening ceremony July 26. Recent achievements and upcoming events for the remaining athletes are: - Maj. Phaelen French, Colorado Springs, modern pentathlon; one of three female athletes to represent the U.S. national team at the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile, Oct. 21-27. - 2nd Lt. Sam Fuller, Torrance, California, water polo; recently selected to play for the pro water polo team Flamengo in Rio, Brazil, until December. - New recruit 2nd Lt. Grant Snyder, El Segundo, California; currently playing for a professional water polo team in Los Angeles. - Airman 1st Class Tyler Evans, Colorago Springs, modern pentathlon; currently training with the Egyptian National Team and will compete in two competitions, one in Madrid, Spain, and another in Kyrgyzstan. - Airman 1st Class Mitch Brown, Colorado Springs, Greco Roman Wrestling; will compete in two Olympic Trial qualification tournaments: the Bill Farrell Memorial Tournament in November and the U.S. Open in December. - Senior Airman Mariah Anderson, Colorado Springs, freestyle wrestling; will compete in the same two upcoming Olympic Trial qualification tournaments as Brown. With these events underway, WCAP athletes are channeling personal resilience to not only help withstand the long hours of commitment towards their goal of achieving Olympic gold, but also applying that resiliency to their military service. “My sport requires focused effort on teamwork and resiliency," French said. “The mental habits I build as a WCAP athlete will help shape me into a valuable member of the Air Force intelligence community when my time with WCAP is over.” Wrestler Brown is applying the values he learns as a WCAP athlete wherever his life takes him. “Being an athlete who is trying to represent the Air Force in the Olympics demands integrity and service before self,” Brown said. “Having these qualities at the forefront of my mind, while being part of WCAP, allows me to continue striving to do my best in whatever capacity of service I find myself in the future." While summer WCAP athletes make their way closer to the world games, their winter WCAP athlete teammates are also in training with program managers, who keep their eyes out for additional 2026 Winter Olympic hopefuls to join them. Current winter WCAP athletes include Senior Airman Kelly Curtis who competed in the skeleton in the 2022 Winter Olympics and new recruit Airman 1st Class Jasmine Jones who participated in the USA Bobsled Push Championships recently and finished second overall. “It’s great having a front-row seat to see all of these athletes train and excel at their competitions,” Filsell said “All of the athletes are ready to take that extra step toward making Team USA, whether for the summer or winter, and I am ready to support them in that endeavor.” For more information on the WCAP, visit Air Force World Class Athlete Program (WCAP) (myairforcelife.com). For updates on the WCAP team, visit Air Force WCAP | Colorado Springs CO | Facebook.