The Olympic Games have become steadily more diverse over the past decade or so in both the Winter and Summer Games. Events that were once devoid of any color now have individuals from all over the cultural, ethnic and social map competing, and sometimes winning.
The latter attribute is what almost happened to American Olympic bobsledder Lauren Gibbs and teammate Elena Meyers Taylor, who just won the silver medal at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games. Gibbs, an Ivy League-educated former collegiate volleyball player, quit her job as a sales manager to try out for the U.S. bobsled team in 2013. Not to overly emphasize this too much, but the amount of self-confidence it takes to quit a job to try a career as an amateur athlete is astounding.
At 33 years old, this is just the weirdest place to be. Four years ago, I was sitting in an office in a suit. This is a much better suit, said Gibbs during a November interview with USA Today.
Its an honor every single day. I get teary eyed every time I drive up to the top of the track.
Gibbs was invited based on the recommendations of friend and Rio Olympian Jillion Potter. The U.S. rugby player mentioned Gibbs 375 pound max back squat, and her 425 pound max dead lift, and that was enough to get an invite to Lake Placid, New York.
When I came into the sport, I was 205 pounds, couldnt run and just was a mess of an athlete, she said.
I was literally god awful, like bad. It wasnt just that you were a natural at it. Nope. Not even close.
Gibbs would slim down, overcome her fear of new tracks, and win a bronze medal at the 2016 World Bobsledding Championships. But, right now, her ascension to the status of silver medalist is perhaps the unlikeliest thing she could ever imagine ten years ago.
Three of the four women on the 2018 U.S. Olympic bobsled team are African-American – Gibbs, Taylor and Aja Evans. Women’s teams from both Nigeria and Jamaica finished near the bottom of the competition in their inaugural Winter Games, finishing 39th and 40th, respectively. Taylor won silver at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, along with teammate Lauryn Williams while teammates Jamie Greubel
and Aja Evans took home the bronze that year.