Hurlburt Airman strives for 2008 Olympic team

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Like many Air Commandos, Senior Airman Christopher Anderson, 720th Operations Support Squadron, was attracted to the Air Force because of the unique opportunities it provides; he just didn't realize that one of those opportunities would be a chance to wrestle for the 2008 U.S. Olympic team. 

Although his duties as a combat controller and an assistant wrestling coach for Fort Walton Beach High School keep him busy, Airman Anderson jumped at the chance to join the Air Force wrestling team. 

"I thought joining the team would give me a chance to wrestle and see new places," Airman Anderson said. "But I never thought I would get a chance to go to the Olympics." 

That is not surprising considering that, until this year, he had not wrestled competitively in more than two years. Airman Anderson wrestles in the Greco-Roman style at 60 kilos, or 132 pounds. 

After submitting his application for the team, Airmen Anderson was invited to a two-week wrestling camp this past February. "The rules had changed since I last wrestled" Airman Anderson said. He credits Richard Estrella, who is in his 20th year as head coach of the Air Force wrestling team, with getting him up to speed. 

Airman Anderson was one of 16 individuals invited to stay with the team for an additional six weeks for the Armed Forces meet and the national meet. Although he was forced to withdraw from the national meet due to an injury, Airman Anderson showed enough promise to be one of four Air Force wrestlers invited to train for the Olympics at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. 

He acknowledged that his experience as a combat controller helped prepare him for the success he enjoyed. "Combat control teaches you how to train and gives you a mental toughness for wrestling," Airman Anderson said. 

Training is vitally important in Greco-Roman wrestling as each match consists of three exhausting two-minute periods. The winner of two of these periods wins the match.
Although he is preparing to undergo shoulder surgery, Airman Anderson is confident he will be in shape and ready to go for next February's camp. He is hoping to continue his success and qualify for the 2008 Olympic trials. 

This is not an easy task as he must either place well enough at next year's national meet or earn enough points by wrestling well in other tournaments to be invited. 

If he qualifies for the trials, he will have a chance to earn a spot on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team. 

Airman Anderson acknowledged that making the Olympic team would be an incredible experience. "With wrestling, it's just you and the other guy - it shows everyone whether or not you trained hard." Fortunately for him, training hard is something he is used to.