World Class Athlete Program Soldier-athlete makes Olympic debut in Bobsleigh
By Michael Hunnisett February 14, 2022
Army Specialist Frank Del Duca, of Bethel, Maine, will make his Olympic debut piloting one of two 2-man bobsleds for Team USA on Monday, February 14, 2022. Del Duca, an Infantry Soldier assigned to the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program, will compete alongside fellow WCAP Soldier-athlete Hakeem Abdul-Saboor.
"It means the world to me to be able to do both," said Del Duca. "I can just hope to do my best as both a Soldier and an athlete."
Del Duca's rise through the U.S. National team has been faster than many, making his debut as a pusher in 2015 before becoming a pilot two years later. Since then, he has been competing on the North America Cup level.
"His plan was to get as much ice time as he could," said Del Duca's father, Frank Del Duca III. "his strategy was to be on the North America Cup so he could get more experience, more trips down, and could still accumulate points. He also knew he had to do very well to get where he wanted to go."
Del Duca's determination paid off. He medaled 16 times in 16 races in the North America Cup; finishing first seven times, and second six times. The hard work Del Duca dedicated to the sport continued to pay off. While only making two World Championship appearances in 2016 and 2017, he made his World Cup debut on January 8, in Winterberg, Germany. Having only competed at the World Cup level for two weeks, Del Duca was named to the U.S. Olympic Bobsled team on January 17 as a pilot for both 2-man and 4-man bobsled.
Starting his military service began in 2019, Del Duca had previously considered serving but was unsure of how to fit the military into his plans. Upon learning about the World Class Athlete Program, and how he can compete as a Soldier, he raised his right hand, and took the oath of enlistment. He attended Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training as an Infantryman immediately after enlisting, before joining the World Class Athlete Program in late 2019.
"I just want to express my gratitude for the U.S. Army, and the World Class Athlete Program, giving myself and my teammates the support we need to compete at the highest level," Del Duca said. "We're growing as individuals. We're growing as a team."
The World Class Athlete Program enables top-ranked Soldier-athletes to perform at the international level while also serving their nation in the military. Since its inception in 1997, Soldiers assigned to the World Class Athlete Program have won over 1,500 medals in both World Championship and Olympic competitions.
Soldier-athletes train year round and aim for the Olympic and Paralympic games. When not competing, Del Duca trains at Lake Placid, New York, with 8 other Soldier-athletes in Bobsled, Skeleton, Luge, and Nordic Combined.
Del Duca will compete in 2-man Bobsled on January 14 and 15; and the 4-man Bobsled on January 18 and 19.