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News | Feb. 21, 2014

Army coaches help U.S. women make Olympic history

By Tim Hipps and Gary Sheftick Army News Service

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (Army News Service, Feb. 20, 2014) - Two Olympic coaches from the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program had an unofficial hand in Team USA earning two Olympic medals in women's bobsled competition Feb. 19 at the Sanki Sliding Center.

U.S. Olympic men's bobsled assistant coach U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program 1st Lt. Mike Kohn and Team USA Olympic skeleton coach Vermont Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Tuffield "Tuffy" Latour, a former U.S. and Canadian men's and women's bobsled coach, assisted Team USA silver medalists Elana Meyers and Lauryn Williams and bronze medalists Aja Evans and Jamie Greubel.

"I coached the women's drivers in their early years, as they were learning to drive, but moved over to the men's side two years ago," said Kohn, who humbly downplayed his value added to U.S. Olympic women's bobsled squad. "We all still pitch in to help all teams on race day."

Williams, a silver medalist in the 100 meters at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, and a gold medalist in the 400-meter relay at the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London, became one of a few women in the history of the modern Olympic movement to win medals in both the winter and summer Games.

Jazmine Fenlator and Lolo Jones finished 11th aboard USA-3. Kohn and Latour were at the track to motivate and help all of the Team USA women's competitors with their sleds.

"He's definitely a help on our race days and preparation for driving," Fenlator said of Kohn, a two-time Olympic bobsled competitor making his Olympic coaching debut in Russia. "I was an athlete - a brakeman - when Mike Kohn qualified for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. His story, alone, in qualifying that third sled for the Olympics was inspiring."

Kohn, a member of the Virginia Army National Guard from Myrtle Beach, S.C., began competing in bobsled in 1990. At age 18, he was the youngest competitor at the 1991 U.S. Olympic bobsled trials. Kohn won a bronze medal in four-man bobsled at the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Utah, and was an alternate for Team USA at the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Italy.

Kohn drove USA-3 to a 13th-place finish in four-man bobsled at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Whistler, British Columbia.

"He's definitely a big support system for us," Greubel said. "He'll be at the bottom of the track helping us with the sleds."

Greubel's teammate, Evans, comes from a family of professional athletes. Her brother, Fred Evans, is a defensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings. Her uncle, Gary Matthews, was a hitting coach before becoming an announcer for the Chicago Cubs. Her cousin, Gary Matthews Jr. was an outfielder who played for the Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Mets, Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles Angels.

Jones finished fourth in the women's 100-meter hurdles at the London 2012 Olympic Summer Games and began bobsledding later that year. She considers being selected to compete for Team USA at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games one of her most memorable athletic achievements.