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AF launches Olympic dreams

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Racing down the track, 2nd Lt. Sean Houseworth, of the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron, begins his sprints here Tuesday, March 30, 2010. Lieutenant Houseworth is a part of the World Class Athlete Program, which allows Air Force athletes to train up to two years for the Olympics. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ashley Reed)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Racing down the track, 2nd Lt. Sean Houseworth, of the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron, begins his sprints here Tuesday, March 30, 2010. Lieutenant Houseworth is a part of the World Class Athlete Program, which allows Air Force athletes to train up to two years for the Olympics. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ashley Reed)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- 2nd Lt. Sean Houseworth, of the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron, finishes his sprints here Tuesday, March 30, 2010. Lieutenant Houseworth is training in 5K and 10K races for the 2012 Olympics. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ashley Reed)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- 2nd Lt. Sean Houseworth, of the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron, finishes his sprints here Tuesday, March 30, 2010. Lieutenant Houseworth is training in 5K and 10K races for the 2012 Olympics. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ashley Reed)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Vandenberg 2nd Lt. Sean Houseworth said he always wanted to become an Olympian, and, because of the Air Force's unique World Class Athlete Program, his fulltime job is to achieve that goal.

The WCAP, which takes place in the two years leading up to the next Olympic Games, allows Air Force athletes to compete in sports ranging from swimming to wrestling, training full time in the hopes of representing the United States in the next games.

Air Force active duty, Reserve and Guard members who compete in any Olympic sport at an elite level and are interested in the program must first fill out Air Force Form 303 and route it through their chain of command. The form then goes to the Air Force Sports Program, the Air Force Personnel Center and, finally, the Pentagon, where the application receives final approval.

The WCAP program is extremely selective; there is currently only one athlete training with the program and seven athletes are under consideration. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics there were four WCAP athletes on the U.S. team, competing in racewalking, fencing, shooting and the modern pentathlon, the latter of which is a unique combination of five events: shooting, fencing, swimming, show jumping and running.

Lieutenant Houseworth, a track and field star who specializes in 5K and 10K races, is one of the seven elite athletes under consideration and has his sights set on the London Games in 2012. As a WCAP participant, Lieutenant Houseworth said he will focus full time on that goal, not having to worry about additional duties, deploying or awards packages. Instead, training will be his sole job.

WCAP athletes get the same Olympic-level training as their competitors. They have the option of training at their home base or relocating in order to train with the national team or with a specific facility or coach. When Lieutenant Houseworth begins his official training in May, he will move to the Olympic Training Facility in Colorado Springs, Colo. There he will be able to continue training with his Air Force Academy coach and benefit from state-of-the-art training equipment.

"I can take advantage of a massage therapist and zero gravity treadmills and an oxygen chamber" he said. "I'll get to use some pretty cool stuff that I've never used before."

As a runner, it's especially important that he is able to focus on training full time. Steve Brown, the chief of Air Force Sports in San Antonio, Texas, said track and field is an especially tough sport in which to compete because there is often only a millisecond difference between making the team or not. Lieutenant Houseworth is well on his way to making the Olympic team, though; he crushed the WCAP's entry requirement of 29 minutes flat for the 10K by clocking in at 28:30.

The Air Force is full of untapped potential, waiting for a program like WCAP to turn their passion into a profession, predicted Lieutenant Houseworth.

"My passion has always been competing and athletics" he said. "For me the best part is to be able to focus on that goal I have always had: try to make the Olympics."

For more information on the WCAP program, visit the Web page at www.usafsports.com/WCAP.htm and review the Air Force Form 303 at www.e-publishing.af.mil/shared/media/epubs/af303.xfd. For further questions, call the Air Force Sports Program coordinators Steve Brown or Tech. Sgt. Alisha Abercrombie at 210-652-3471.