Breaking Barriers: Elana Meyers Taylor, Olympic BobsledderBreaking Barriers: Elana Meyers Taylor, Olympic Bobsledder – In her fourth Olympic Games, Elana Meyers Taylor, will fight for monobob gold this week in Beijing. However, her biggest challenge may have already come. On arrival at the games, Meyers Taylor and her family tested positive for Covid. Not only did she miss carrying the flag in the Opening Ceremonies, she and her family have been under strict isolation. She, her husband Nic Taylor, an alternate on the American men’s bobsled team, her nearly two-year old son, Nico, who has Down Syndrome, and her father, who was allowed to travel to help with Nico, have all been separated in these days leading up to the competition. That separation was something Meyers Taylor has never dealt with and couldn’t prepare for. It has had an immense effect on her mentally and physically.

Meyers Taylor is the top-ranked athlete in monobob, a new event in the Games this year. She has two silvers and a bronze from her previous Olympic Games and four World Championships to her name. The 2015 World Championship was the first title for the United States in women’s bobsled. And while all of those have been on two-person teams, Meyers Taylor will make her next runs alone, two on Sunday with the final two runs on Monday.

Breaking Barriers: Elana Meyers Taylor, Olympic BobsledderThough Covid has impacted Meyers Taylor’s Olympic experience, she is no stranger to challenges. She played softball on scholarship for George Washington University, but when she failed to make the US Olympic softball team, her parents suggested she try bobsledding. In her sledding career she has competed on mixed-gender crews in four-man bobsleigh. She secured a spot on the US national team with only four days of training in a four-man sled. She and Kallie Humphries of Canada were the first women to compete with and against men in the North American Cup in 2014. In 2015, Meyers Taylor was the first bobsled driver, male or female, to win a worlds title on a non-North American track in 56 years.

Meyers Taylor has spent her career as an advocate for female athletes. In a 2018 Team USA press release she said she “has a responsibility to fight for equality for those who can’t.” She has taken that responsibility seriously. In 2019, she began her term as president of the Women’s Sports Foundation. In an article she wrote for Team USA in June 2020, she brought attention to the racism she has faced in her bobsledding career. The incidents range from racist comments from coaches in other countries to one sled manufacturer refusing to sell sleds to black sledders. A task force for investigating was formed by the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation because she spoke up.

Meyers Taylor is out of quarantine, back in her sled, and beginning to clear the fog from her mind that the last weeks have caused. Whether she comes home with a medal is yet to be seen, but be assured, this Olympian’s trading cards are worth adding to your collection of barrier breaking women.

 

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Libby Koch

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