Nathan Schrimsher was understandably emotional after qualifying as the first member of the 2016 U.S. Olympic team on Sunday.
The 23-year-old said he endured a rough year, according to TeamUSA.org. His father passed away unexpectedly at his Roswell, N.M., ranch on March 28, according to an obituary.
“After my dad passed … I was always competing to do the best that I could do, trying to prove to myself what I could do,” Schrimsher told New Mexico NBC affiliate KOB 4. “After that, I kind of realized what’s important in life.”
Schrimsher finished third at the Pan American Games in Toronto on Sunday to clinch a berth in Rio. He is ranked No. 59 in the world, placed 13th at the 2010 Youth Olympics and is part of the US Army’s World Class Athlete Program.
No U.S. man has won an individual modern pentathlon Olympic medal since 1960. The last U.S. woman to make the Olympic podium was in 2000.
On Sunday, Schrimsher finished in Olympic qualifying position (top three overall not already qualified, no more than one per country) thanks in large part to having the fastest time in the 200m freestyle swim (2:00.59). The other three modern pentathlon events are fencing, equestrian and a combined running/shooting event.
A nation may qualify a maximum of two athletes per gender for the Olympic modern pentathlon.
The next members of the 2016 U.S. Olympic team could come from table tennis at the Pan American Games later this week.