We spend a lot of time here at TRNL heaping scorn on those who have done much to deserve it. The political and social landscapes are a target rich environment right now, so we stay pretty busy.
But I want all of us to be sure to take a minute to recognize and honor people who do get it…and are willing to lay down their lives for it. My daughter works for US Bobsled and Skeleton Federation in Lake Placid and posted this to her Facebook page:
Best of Luck John Napier! We’ll miss you around here!
Olympic bobsledder and soldier John Napier is giving up the sport to pursue another dream — earning a spot in an elite military unit, the Schenectady native told the Times Union on Monday.
Napier raced in the Vancouver Olympics, then had to repeatedly lobby the military before being allowed to suspend athletic training and join his National Guard unit in Afghanistan. Now, the 25-year-old said he plans to try out for a new team: a special operations force in either the Army or Navy.
He came back with a new perspective after seeing combat during a five-month tour in Afghanistan in 2010.
“After Afghanistan, I had a lot of rational and irrational ideas about sports,” said Napier, who has been competing for 18 years. “I never got the taste of selflessness that I did in Afghanistan. There is not a morning that I don’t wake up and miss it.”
Napier competed in the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, and then had to petition the military to be allowed to joined his Vermont National Guard unit in Afghanistan. The Army initially wanted him to continue his athletic training.
He saw combat in Afghanistan as an infantryman. The scales of his two passions — the military and bobsledding — started to tip away from sport. It wasn’t about the rush of conflict; rather, it was the bond in conflict representing your county that no national sports team can replicate.
“It was the camaraderie,” he said.
After a so-so World Cup season piloting USA-2, Napier and brakeman Chris Goft finished sixth in the two-man in the world championships in February, held appropriately in Napier’s adopted hometown of Lake Placid. After the competition, Darrin Steele, the CEO of the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, thought the showing set Napier up well for the coming season and the Sochi Olympics two years out.