Former Olympic wrestler Wheeler training to become police of
The wrestler in Adam Wheeler didn’t want to quit, captivated by the thrill of excelling as the underdog and defying the longest odds on the sport’s biggest stage.
The good Samaritan in him desired new life, intent on realizing a childhood dream, playing a larger role in his community and helping people who need it most.
That’s why Wheeler, 27, who won a Greco-Roman bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Games, has retired from wrestling, leaving the Olympic Training Center to become a Colorado Springs police officer.
A Colorado-Colorado Springs graduate student, Wheeler, of Lancaster, Calif., recently finished six months of training at the city’s police academy, and he’s beginning a four-month orientation with a patrol unit.
He works 10-hour shifts under a senior officer. He’s learning how to search houses, respond to burglaries, execute arrest warrants and write speeding tickets.
When he’s off, he lifts weights, takes target practice, goes mountain biking and spends time with his wife, Marley, a Jenkins Middle School social studies teacher.
Wrestling hardly crosses Wheeler’s mind. It’s quite a change from the U.S. Olympic Education Center at Northern Michigan, where Wheeler earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, and the OTC, where he laid the foundation for Olympic glory.
“Wrestling is self-satisfaction,” Wheeler said. “In police work, you’re helping people. You’re giving back to the community. When the time comes that I help someone, I’m going to feel great. It’s something that’s going to be really fulfilling.”
Introduced to law enforcement during a five-year stint in the U.S. Coast Guard, Wheeler plans to stay on patrol until he’s “proficient enough” to start detective duty or join a specialized squad, such as the SWAT team or K-9 unit.
On patrol, Wheeler said, “Something might be happening that could be dangerous. your heart starts beating fast, and it’s excitement. You have to be at this robbery right now, and you’re doing it right then.
“You do lots of the preliminary investigation,” he added. “You’ve got to gather as much information as you can, then the detectives are going to dig deep so they can get to the bottom of it.”
If Wheeler continued wrestling, he would have been a contender for the 2012 London Games.
In Beijing, he defeated 2004 Olympian Lajos Virag of Hungary to reach the 211.5-pound bronze-medal match, in which he beat South Korean Tae-Young Han. His only loss was against German Mirko Englich, the eventual silver medalist.
“I know I’m done,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler maintains being a cop keeps him on his toes more than wrestling.
“You never know what to expect,” he said. “It’s one of those jobs that’s not going to get boring. It’s not the same thing every day. Every call you get, every traffic accident is going to be different.”
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