MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO --
Since the start of the Olympic Games in 1896, U.S. service members have been competing side by side with some of the world’s finest athletes to take home the gold for their country. This year is no exception.
At this years games, held in Beijing from Aug. 8 – 24, there will be 21 military athletes and coaches from the U.S. helping to bring back medals in events, mostly in marksmanship, wrestling, and track and field. Of those 21, there is one Marine.
Major Jay Antonelli, an observer controller at Marine Forces Command, is the Olympic Greco Roman Wrestling Team coach. Antonelli is no stranger to the stage of the Olympics and said he is looking forward to representing the U.S. again in a recent interview with a news station in Virginia.
“I’m excited. It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Antonelli said. “I got the chance to be an assistant coach at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and wrestling’s always been a passion for me. I love it.”
He said that his experience as a Marine has helped him be a better wrestler and leader.
“Being a Marine and being a wrestler takes the same character, determination, mission accomplishment,” he said.
Antonelli is just one of many Marines to be involved in the Olympics.
Bob Mathias won a Gold medal in the decathlon at the Olympics in London in 1948 at the age of 18; becoming the youngest person to win a track and field gold medal. Later in 1951, he went to boot camp, here in San Diego. One year later he would win another gold medal in the decathlon in Helsinki. Mathias went on later to be commissioned as a second lieutenant and eventually a congressman.
Billy Mills continued Marines reputation in track and field in 1964. Mills served as an officer in the Marines before becoming the first American to win gold in the 10,000 meter run and placing ninth in the marathon. Mills also set the Olympic record for the 10,000 meter.
The Greco Roman Wrestling matches took place this week and ended on Thursday, Aug. 14. To see the results check the Olympics official website at http://en.beijing2008.cn/.