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Fairchild sergeant headed to India for World Games

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Tech. Sgt. Michael Bergquist, Washington Air National Guardsman activated to the 92nd Security Forces Squadron here, crosses the finish line first during a base-wide 5k run Aug. 10, which took place during the post-Unit Compliance Inspection Commander’s Sports Challenge. Sergeant Bergquist is a triathlon sprint specialist and will represent the Air Force on the all Military Team USA competing in the 4th annual Military World Games in India in October. (U.S. Air Force Photo / Senior Airman Chad Watkins)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Tech. Sgt. Michael Bergquist, Washington Air National Guardsman activated to the 92nd Security Forces Squadron here, crosses the finish line first during a base-wide 5k run Aug. 10, which took place during the post-Unit Compliance Inspection Commander’s Sports Challenge. Sergeant Bergquist is a triathlon sprint specialist and will represent the Air Force on the all Military Team USA competing in the 4th annual Military World Games in India in October. (U.S. Air Force Photo / Senior Airman Chad Watkins)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Tech. Sgt. Michael Bergquist, Washington Air National Guardsman activated to the 92nd Security Forces Squadron at here, leads the pack during a base-wide 5k run Aug. 10. Sergeant Bergquist trains daily for such competitions, and recently finished sixth in the Armed Forces Triathlon Championship, earning himself a spot on the all Military Team USA, which heads to India for the Military World Games in October. (U.S. Air Force Photo / Senior Airman Chad Watkins)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Tech. Sgt. Michael Bergquist, Washington Air National Guardsman activated to the 92nd Security Forces Squadron at here, leads the pack during a base-wide 5k run Aug. 10. Sergeant Bergquist trains daily for such competitions, and recently finished sixth in the Armed Forces Triathlon Championship, earning himself a spot on the all Military Team USA, which heads to India for the Military World Games in October. (U.S. Air Force Photo / Senior Airman Chad Watkins)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Tech. Sgt. Michael Bergquist, an Air National Guardsman activated with the 92nd Security Forces Squadron, finished sixth in the Armed Forces Triathalon Championship in July to claim the last spot on the All-Military Team USA.

Making the final spot means that Sergeant Bergquist will represent the Air Force men, with one other team member, in the 4th Annual Military World Games in India in October.

Hampered by a hamstring injury, Sergeant Bergquist was hoping that giving it everything he had would be good enough to finish in the top six.

"Going in, I was worried that my hamstring was going to slow me down," said Sergeant Bergquist. "When I found out that I finished sixth, I went up in disbelief to claim the final spot on the team."

Sergeant Bergquist, a 34-year-old native of Washington, spent his childhood in Spokane. His love of sports started at an early age; going through school he participated in every sport he could. He regularly competed in track, football and basketball, but also participated in soccer, baseball, and wrestling.

"As a kid, I was a playground racer, even before kindergarten," he said. "I started racing on a track team when I was in the fourth grade."

After high school, Sergeant Bergquist moved to Cheney, Wash., to attend Eastern Washington University where he earned two Bachelor of Arts degrees and a Bachelor of Science degree. He joined the Air National Guard in 1992, which was the year he started participating in triathlons.

He has a career filled with victories: more than two dozen sprint triathlons in the bag and a couple of second place finishes at the USA Triathlon Sprint Nationals.

To put it modestly, a 500-meter swim, 12-mile bike ride, followed by a 5-kilometer run is not for the faint of heart. It definitely pushes the body to its limits. Preparing the body for the rigors of such a trial of endurance takes years of training.

"I'm a sprint specialist; it's the shortest, fastest and can be far more painful," said Sergeant Bergquist. "It takes thirteen years to make an elite athlete. I've been training for this sort of event for years."

Sergeant Bergquist is constantly training to ensure his body is in peak physical condition to consistently place in these grueling competitions. He trains daily with a mixture of running, biking and swimming. Generally, he runs every day and will choose to either bike or swim, but some days he pulls the "hat trick" and performs all three.

"In a given week, I swim about 10 kilometers, bike about 100 miles and run roughly 40 miles," Sergeant Bergquist said.

Only 10 military individuals, five men and five women, were selected to compete in India: an opportunity of a lifetime for most.

"I'm really luck to have this opportunity," he said. "This is the biggest event I've ever qualified for."

Though his triathlon participation began in '92, Sergeant Bergquist really got serious about competing in 1999. He injured his back in 1998, was diagnosed with a degenerative disc disease, and was told that he would never walk normally again.

After six weeks of bed rest and six weeks of physical therapy, Sergeant Bergquist, knowing that he had always been a talented athlete, felt that he had wasted that gift.

"I was angry with myself that I would have to wonder for the rest of my life what I could have accomplished," he said. "If I ever got another chance, my plan was to see what my potential was. The doctors were wrong. I got better and started training seriously."

Sergeant Bergquist continues to train as he prepares to represent the Air Force and the United States of America in the Military World Games in India.