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Meet soldier-athletes competing at the Tokyo Olympics

These athletes are part of two teams: "Team Army and Team USA."
/ Source: TODAY

Ildar Hafizov, Samantha Schultz, Amro Elgeziry, Benard Keter and Alejandro Sancho are five athletes who joined Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics, competing in everything from wrestling to pentathlon. But their lives off the field take on a new dimension when you learn they have one thing in common.

They're all Army soldiers.

"These are the two best teams in the world, I believe," wrestler Sancho told TODAY in an interview that aired Tuesday. "Team Army and Team USA."

All five of them, along with other athlete-soldiers, are based at Fort Carson in Colorado, which provides training and coaching to elite athletes who are also serving in the armed forces. Before the Tokyo Olympics, soldiers in the World Class Athlete Program had brought home 111 medals.

Benard Keter
Benard Keter trains for his Tokyo Olympics appearance in track and field.TODAY

"We encompass those skills as a soldier and as an athlete," Schultz, a pentathlete competing in the Olympics for the first time, said. "And that's really cool to bring all that together."

That's in contrast to Elgeziry, who is also a pentathlete but is attending his fourth Olympics. "It never gets old," he said.

He added that many of the qualities that make for a good soldier also make for a good athlete: perseverance, resiliency and continual striving for excellence. "As a soldier, we get to practice that every day."

Ildar Hafizov
Ildar Hafizov, shown here with Luis Alberto Orta Sanchez of Team Cuba at the men's Greco-Roman competition, wrestles as part of Team USA this time, but during the 2008 Olympics he was competing on behalf of Uzbekistan.Tom Pennington / Getty Images

Hafizov is a Greco-Roman wrestler and returning for the second time after competing in 2008, when he represented Uzbekistan. Now, he's a U.S. citizen and a soldier: "Representing the United States and Army is already a huge honor."

Most of the athletes featured here have finished competing and did not medal. Sgt. Schultz and Sgt. Elgeziry's modern pentathlon events begin Thursday.