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Naval Academy Leadership Instructor Competes in World Military Triathlon

Posted on: October 04, 2012 08:00 EDT by Gin Kai

Naval Academy leadership instructor Marine Capt. Leonie T. Campbell was the first American to cross the finish line in the 17th Annual World Military Triathlon held in Lausanne, Switzerland in August.

Competing as a member of the Armed Forces Triathlon Team, made up of six men and six women representing the U.S., Campbell finished 26th overall out of 42 female athletes from around the world.

The triathlon consisted of a 1,500-meter lake swim, followed by a 40-kilometer cycle and a 10-kilometer run. The races took place Aug. 24, with the women competing in the morning and the men in the afternoon.

Campbell was in the third pack coming out of the water. She spent most of the cycle course fighting with the gears on her bike, but experienced her best run of the season, she said.

The event is sponsored by the International Military Sports Council, founded in Nice, France, in 1948. The organization organizes sporting events for the armed forces of 133 member countries. The goal is to contribute to world peace by uniting armed forces through sports.

The athletes certainly entered into the spirit of international cooperation, Campbell said, noting that by the end of the third day, the Iranians and Americans were smiling and shaking hands. By the end of the week, they were exchanging gear. Campbell came home with an Iranian swim cap.

The U.S. team arrived Aug. 22, met their Swiss Army liaisons and boarded the bus for the ride to Moudon Military Camp. The first couple of days were spent meeting other teams and previewing the course for each leg of the race.

Campbell learned that many countries fund their Olympic and national teams through the military, which meant that many of the people competing in this event were in fact professional athletes with little to no military experience.

"It made for a really awesome opportunity to race against athletes who are at the top of the world stage," she said.

The opportunity to interact with athletes from around the world was a great cultural experience, said Campbell.

"Being able to represent the United States as a member of the military in the international sports arena was an amazing opportunity and added perspective to how I view the world," she said. "Sports certainly do have a way of changing the way we interact with individuals from other countries."

This isn't likely to be the last world military championship Campbell competes in. The World Games, also sponsored by the International Military Sports Council, take place in South Korea in 2015.

"I plan to be there, mixing it up again with some phenomenal athletes," she said.

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