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7 Olympic athletes who are current or former first responders

As the world prepares to root on their athletes at the Games, learn about these seven first responders who served their communities and represented Team USA


We took it upon ourselves to see how many Olympic athletes have also been firefighters in the past or present.


The 2020 Olympic Summer Games kick off July 23 after a one-year delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top athletes from all over the world will gather in Tokyo to compete in more than 400 events to represent their country on the winner’s podium.

To earn a spot at the Olympic Games, athletes must prove they have the dedication, commitment and perseverance to overcome physical and mental challenges and come out the other side. It takes a certain kind of individual to reach that skill level. First responders require those same skillsets on a daily basis.

As the world prepares to root on their athletes at the Games, learn about these seven first responders who served their communities and represented Team USA.

1. Firefighter Lea Ann Parsley

Parsley is a retired American skeleton racer from Ohio. She started out her firefighting career as a volunteer firefighter in 1985 and later became a full-time firefighter in 1995. In 1999, she was named Firefighter of the Year for the State of Ohio. She’s currently a member of the Ohio Interagency Wildfire Crew. At the 2002 Winter Olympics, she was one of eight athletes chosen to carry the World Trade Center flag into the Opening Ceremony.

2. Firefighter Jimmy Watkins

Watkins, who represented the U.S. in match sprint at the London Olympics, trained for the games while also working as a full-time firefighter in Bakersfield, California. In fact, Watkins told Cycling News that he has kept his full-time job as a firefighter for his entire cycling career. Talk about the ability to multitask. Listen as Watkins talks about his experience at the Olympics from a 2012 interview.

3. Firefighter-Paramedic Lovie Jung

Jung, a former Olympic softball gold medalist, is now a Riverside City, California, firefighter-paramedic. She started taking community college classes in 2008 to get an EMT certification, graduated the fire academy and was hired in 2010. Jung told the OC Register that she’s not treated differently as a firefighter because she’s an Olympic medalist.

4. Firefighter Theodore “T.C.” Bazile

Bazile, who was part of Special Olympics Team USA, participated in the 2014 USA Games in New Jersey. He’s the reigning champion of the state pentathlon and brought home four gold medals. When he’s not competing, he’s singing in his church’s choir and volunteering as a firefighter.

5. Firefighter Cathy Marino

Cathy Marino is a two-time American Olympic sprint canoer. There have been a lot of firsts for Marino when it comes to the fire service. She was the first female recruit to graduate the Santa Ana College Fire Academy and the first female firefighter for the City of Orange, California. Later, she became the first female firefighter for the City of Long Beach.

6. Firefighter Casey Wickline

Wickline is a firefighter in Greenville, S.C. He will be competing at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games with the rest of the USA Bobsled team. Good luck, brother. We’re rooting for you.

7. Firefighter Ian Rawn

Rawn, who has Down syndrome, was the only figure skater from Texas in the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games. He currently works at a financial company. Before moving to Texas, he was a volunteer firefighter in Pennsylvania.

Rachel Engel is an award-winning journalist and the senior editor of and In addition to her regular editing duties, Engel seeks to tell the heroic, human stories of first responders and the importance of their work. She earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma, and began her career as a freelance writer, focusing on government and military issues. Engel joined Lexipol in 2015 and has since reported on issues related to public safety. Engel lives in Wichita, Kansas. She can be reached via email.