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From out-of-shape to triathlons; An 89 AW lieutenant's transformation

ANDREWS AFB, Md. -- Working as a crew chief in 2002, Senior Airman Kenneth Corigliano found out he had been accepted into the officer commissioning program. 

Shortly thereafter, he discovered he may not have been "fit" for the job. 

"Maybe I'm not in shape," Cadet Corigliano said after failing his first physical fitness test in the program. 

One way for Cadet Corigliano to pass the fitness test was to join a National Collegiate Athletic Association sport. 

"I thought of what would be the easiest sport, and I came up with cross country," said the Florida native and lieutenant at the 89th Operational Support Squadron. 

That choice to join the St. Leo's cross country team put the cadet on track to becoming a military champion triathlete and chasing the most coveted athletic honor in the military.
At St. Leo's, Cadet Corigliano was mentored by world class coach Cyle Sage. 

Coach Sage not only assisted Cadet Corigliano with his running, but he taught methods to increase his endurance. 

He later introduced Cadet Corigliano to triathlons. 

In 2005, Lieutenant Corigliano's interest in triathlons took off while he was working as a fellow for Governor Jeb Bush in Tallahassee, Fla. 

He decided to join a triathlon training class at Florida State University. 

He was quickly humbled during his first workout in the water. 

"I couldn't even swim across the pool," he said. 

Not only that, but Lieutenant Corigliano didn't even own a bike. 

When his coach at FSU told him he was getting a late start in the sport, and he wouldn't be able to compete with competitors who had been training their whole lives, Lieutenant Corigliano took it as a personal challenge. 

"I looked at the best people in each sport who didn't compete in triathlons," he said. "I looked at their training regimens and identified what they all did the same." 

In 2006, Lieutenant Corigliano won the U.S. National Military Triathlon Championship, beating an Olympic swimmer in the process. 

Despite his quick rise as the top triathlete in the Air Force, the highlight of Lieutenant Corigliano's career came May 6. 

This was an important date to the lieutenant, considering it was his birthday, his graduation day and his commissioning day. 

Earlier this year, he headed home to Bradenton, Fla., to compete in the most high profile triathlon of his career. 

The event was his debut in the 101-mile triathlon and included three Olympians, more than 40 professional triathletes and competitors from more than 30 countries. 

Of the 90 participants who finished, Lieutenant Corigliano placed a respectable 36th. 

"It was then that I realized I may be able to hang with the best triathletes in the world," he said. 

His only obstacle was finding the time to train while also balancing the life of an Active Duty lieutenant in the Air Force. 

It's tough to compete against guys who do triathlons for a living, he said. 

That obstacle led him to his next goal; to be named to the military's World-Class Athlete Program. 

WCAP is a program that would allow Lieutenant Corigliano to train year-round for triathlons while still getting his base pay. He could compete in any triathlon he wanted to provided he paid his own way. 

The program would also allow him to obtain a professional card and gain sponsors for his events. In essence, it would make him a professional triathlete, and allow him to compete for spots in national championships and even the Olympics. 

He is currently on pace to qualify for the WCAP program and he is confident that if he gets in, he will achieve greatness. 

"My Air Force training has prepared me for anything, and I know with the opportunity that I can compete with the best in the world," said Lieutenant Corigliano.
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