2010 Winter Olympics Bronze medalist and African American female bobsledder Elana Meyers hopes to use the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, to bring the U.S. back to the forefront of the athletic world. Meyers, who was recently named Women’s Bobsled Athlete of the Year and the United States’ No. 1 driver, took a break from her busy schedule to talk to rolling out about the Olympics, bobsledding and more.
How did you initially get started in bobsledding?
I grew up right outside Atlanta playing softball. I played at George Washington University and then played professionally for a year, but I was really trying to make an Olympic team with softball. I wasn’t going to make the 2008 Olympic team so I needed a new sport. After my only year of professional softball I decided to email the U.S. bobsledding coach and made the team in 2007 and have been there every day since.
What was it like to be named Women’s Bobsled Athlete of the Year?
I was pretty excited about it because it’s such an honor to be a part of the U.S. team and represent my country. I put in a lot of hard work this year with a lot of ups and downs and lessons learned. I was just fortunate to come out of it with Athlete of the Year.
What exactly are the responsibilities for a bobsled driver?
I like to make the comparison between a brakeman and driver to a lineman and quarterback in football. A brakeman is more of a lineman because it’s just mostly physical. A driver is like a quarterback because although you have the physical aspect, it’s a big mental responsibility. Drivers determine the plays and try to navigate the track going 75 to 90 mph. I’m basically the leader of my team.
In terms of getting more black women to bobsled do you consider yourself a pioneer for the sport?
I don’t necessarily consider myself a pioneer for the sport because the greatest pioneer in the sport was Vonetta Flowers in 2002, but I do feel like I’m continuing the legacy. Flowers was the first African American to win a gold medal and it was in the sport of bobsled. I’m looking to continue the legacy as I, too, have a bronze medal in the Olympics so I hope in 2014 I’ll add a gold to it.