John Napier leaves bobsled team

Updated: May 9, 2012, 12:55 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- United States bobsledder John Napier is leaving the sport and will try to become a member of an elite military unit.

The 25-year-old Napier, a sergeant in the Vermont National Guard, volunteered for a five-month tour in Afghanistan after competing in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and was deeply affected by it.

[+] EnlargeNapier
Kevork Djansezian/Getty ImagesJohn Napier is leaving the U.S. bobsled team to try out for a place in an elite U.S. military unit.

Napier, a native of Schenectady, N.Y., will try to join a special operations unit in the U.S. Army or the U.S. Navy, according to the (Albany) Times Union.

He had to lobby the military to be allowed to join his unit in Afghanistan, where he served in the infantry and saw combat, according to the report.

"After Afghanistan, I had a lot of rational and irrational ideas about sport," Napier said, according to the Times Union. "I never got the taste of selflessness that I did in Afghanistan. There is not a morning that I don't wake up and miss it."

Darrin Steele, chief executive officer of the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, said he's disappointed but not surprised.

Napier had "some second thoughts when he first came back. He was trying to figure out if he wanted to go on with the military or jump back into bobsled," Steele said.

Napier told the U.S. team last week that he was leaving after having been involved in the sport since he was a kid.

"I don't want to compete at something just because I was good at something," he said, according to the Times Union. "That is not where my heart is."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.