Appleton local becomes Olympian

Nolan Swenson, Sports Editor

Three Wisconsinites have reached the peak of the athletic totem pole and are now part of the U.S. Olympic biathlon team. For those who are unaware, the biathlon is a competition which combines cross-country skiing with rifle shooting where the competitors race a course and attempt to hit targets. Being such a firearm-heavy sport, one might be shocked to learn the U.S. has never placed high enough to receive a medal. As always, our athletes hoped to chan

Picture taken by Marcus Cyron
Paul competed in a 2017 European sprint championship.

ge that through rigorous training of mind and body and year-round practice, they planned to make us all proud. However, our male athletes have been eliminated from the top three again; but this does not mean they didn’t make great achievements in their strides to reach the highest echelons of sport. The Women had one event yesterday and have another Saturday.

Paul Schommer, 29, of Appleton attended Kimberly High School and was there for what he called part of his athletic awakening. “Sporting culture was growing and being at that high-level sporting culture changed how I saw being an athlete,” he said. This encouraged him to break past his prior views about what constituted being an athlete, “being a major athlete isn’t just being paid millions a year to play football or some big sport.”

When he left high school and pursued higher education, he attended The College of St. Scholastica. It was in college that he discovered a love for the biathlon and where he began to train and compete. For the past seven years Schommer has been infatuated with the sport, eventually taking him through several echelons of competition leading him to this year’s Olympic appearance.

This is his first Olympics, and he already feels deeply engaged in all aspects of its culture, especially teamwork. Although the U.S. team has yet to earn a medal in the sport, Schommer is quite excited and pleased with the progress and work they have put in, most especially in their mixed relay with two men and two women competing together. “In mixed we outperformed expectations and got seventh, we’ve had great performances that show an advancement towards medals”.

Schommer’ plans to continue racing for the time being and feels incredibly invigorated by his Olympic appearance. However, due to the large time span between Olympics, he cannot concretely say how he’ll feel about another olympic appearance. As for his first Olympic performance, it’s safe to say he left it all on the course, which shows an exceptional upbringing from the community and his own personal maintenance.