JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas (AFNS) --
The application window for Airmen, Guardians, Reservists and Guardsmen who dream of Olympic competition is now open.
Following on the heels of 2022 Winter Olympian Airman 1st Class Kelly Curtis, Department of the Air Force and Space Force athletes have 45 days to apply to begin their training with the hopes of competing in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
Once accepted into the program, athletes train full-time for the chance to represent the DAF and the nation on the world stage.
Capt. Cale Simmons, a World Class Athlete Program pole-vaulter, competed in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and credits WCAP with his making the team.
“Training with the WCAP program is hands-down by far the best training I’ve had,” Simmons said, who trained at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “We have nutritionists, strength and conditioning coaches, everyone works together on a coordinated front. If I were to do this on my own with no coach, it would be very difficult. To be part of WCAP is a great honor.”
Throughout the program’s 28-year history, 12 Air Force WCAP members have made the Olympic team with the most recent being Curtis, the first female to make the Winter Olympic team through WCAP in 24 years.
“This experience has been too good to be true and the support you receive from the Air Force Services Center and WCAP has allowed me to progress in my sport in such a short amount of time,” Curtis said. “Being able to compete in the Olympics would not have been possible without the support of WCAP and my family.”
Established in 1995, Air Force WCAP, managed by AFSVC, continues the legacy of Tuskegee Airman Malvin G. Whitfield. Whitfield, a Korean War tail gunner, became the first active-duty American service member to win Olympic gold in 1952 in Helsinki.
“Within the Air Force and Space Force, there are elite athletes who require dedicated and quality training regiments to improve their chances of making the Olympic team,” said Dale Filsell, Department of the Air Force WCAP program manager. “Applying, and if accepted into the WCAP, allows them the opportunity to dedicate the next two years to achieve their goal of making the Olympics.”
Unlike “Marvelous Mal” Whitfield, who trained for the 1952 games by running on an airfield between bombing missions, WCAP athletes train full time. Athletes compete in national and international events for the purposes of qualifying the Olympic team.
Although WCAP athletes train full-time in their given sport, they are also required to complete all annual and ancillary training, professional military education, fitness assessments and other mandatory tasks required of all Airmen.
“Active-duty Airmen and Guardians are eligible for WCAP. Applications will need to route through the athlete’s career field manager, commander, and senior rater for release from the career field and endorsement to apply,” said Maj. Aaron Tissot, AFSVC fitness and sports chief. “Additionally, athletes will need an endorsement from their sport’s National Governing Body, which verifies the potential to make Team USA.”
The application period for the 2024 Summer Olympic season for the Department of the Air Force World Class Athlete Program begins this month. Interested members can apply or find out more information here or email here.