Thursday, September 10, 2015, Sept. 10, 2015 —
VICENZA, Italy — Two 173rd Airborne Brigade paratroopers have been selected to represent the U.S. military at the International Military Sports Council (CISM) World Military Games, to be held in Mungyeong, Korea, October 2015.
Capt. Jose Solis, an assistant brigade military intelligence officer, and 1st Lt. Kyler Martin, the deputy brigade engineer, will be competing in cycling and track and field respectively, at the 6th annual military games, founded in 2009 in order to increase friendship through sport.
CISM, founded in 1948, organizes sporting events for service members in 133 member countries, who, according to their website, may previously have met on the battlefield and now meet in friendship on the sporting field.
These two men take their sports seriously, with both holding Italian sports licenses and competing in local competitions. This will be the first time they represent America on the world stage.
Solis, a serious cyclist for the last eight years, previously was a triathlete, but then decided he preferred cycling to running and swimming. He credits his time at the 173rd for perfecting his game.
“Racing in Italy helped me out,” said Solis. “It’s a pretty big sport here and the competition is pretty high. I think that the competition I’ll see at the World Games will be similar to what I’ve been experiencing here.”
Solis trains daily, spending about 14-16 hours on the bike per week. He also participates in two different types of events in Italy: the "gran fondo" – an Italian-style marathon of cycling, a pro-am race often at distances of 80-100 miles with hundreds of people participating, and timed racing circuits – 50 miles in two hours or less, for more serious cyclists.
Martin is in his 10th season of running track and field events, starting as a teenager, then representing the U.S. Army as a cadet at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.
“I’ve had the World Military Games on my mind the last few years now,” said Martin. “So I’ve been training and running while I’m here in Europe.”
Martin, who runs the 110-meter hurdles, has larger dreams beyond Korea.
“This is a good opportunity, being that it’s a world stage and a chance for a world title,” he said. “I hope that this meet will propel me into that next level. Especially with the Olympic trials coming up next year.”
Both men credit the military for making them better athletes, and their athletic training for making them better paratroopers.
“Discipline connects sports and being a paratrooper,” said Solis. “It’s not easy waking up early every day and training before work. But my ability to stick to the plan and follow through with it, comes from being a disciplined Soldier.”
“Being a Soldier, I have a regimented lifestyle, starting with physical training each morning, which I use to better my run time,” said Martin. “It’s built right into my schedule. And being a runner helps me be a better Soldier by building endurance, speed, strength and coordination.”
The two paratroopers plan to combine the best attributes of being a Soldier-athlete while in Korea and do their very best to represent the brigade.
“When you’re an athlete, your main focus is winning – it’s your only goal, the only option,” said Martin. “Being a paratrooper I understand this. Like Gen. Douglas MacArthur said ‘there is no substitute for victory.’”