Beijing 2022 selection was officially cemented for USA bobsleigh star Elana Meyers Taylor. It means her challenge of potentially capturing two Olympic medals can continue - all whilst she breastfeeds her son, Nico.
In the fourth in a series of candid sport blogs for Olympics.com, the American outlines the travel stresses of an elite athlete, how she's carving out time for cartoons, and the committed squad of people she's reliant on to make her Olympic dreams a reality.
READ: Catch up on the third blog detailing the challenges of her son's Down's syndrome diagnosis
Sport blog: Elana Meyers Taylor joined by her husband in Beijing
After a crazy and chaotic season, we did it! I officially qualified for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing! My husband, Nic Taylor, also qualified as an alternate athlete, or P credential, for the men’s team. I’m still breastfeeding, which means my son Nico is also invited. So it’s official - the Taylors are headed to Beijing! In order for Nic and I to be able to focus on competing and our duties for the Games, my dad is coming with us as Nico’s care provider which means our family circus has an additional member.
It’s been a hectic end to the regular season. Qualification was not easy! And neither was the last round of testing in preparation for the Games. Things were pretty stressful work-wise with the added motherhood duties. I felt so tired that I actually broke down in tears on the phone to my parents. They could tell the season had been long and difficult.
Two days later (and after multiple Covid tests), my father arrived to St. Moritz, Switzerland, to help us finish out the week and move on to the Games. Our teammate and friend, Tiffeny Parker, had done an excellent job taking care of Nico all season long. We are eternally grateful! But, with the stresses of last week of the season especially, we needed all hands on deck. Nico now had a super team of caretakers to make sure he has everything needs to be happy and healthy.
Sport blog: Elana Meyers Taylor on becoming overall champion
This has allowed Nic and I to focus on what we needed to do- and we did it. I ended the season as World Cup overall champion in both two-man and monobob- two accomplishments that we were going for- but happened to ACTUALLY work out. This season we have really been focused on doing everything possible to prepare for the Games- even if it meant worse results on a weekly basis- so to come out on top was a huge surprise! Although the achievements are great, they in no way predict what’s about to happen in Beijing. Now the real work starts.
Originally, when we thought about pre-Olympic camps, I knew after a long season I would just want to go home back to Georgia. We have been travelling nonstop since early November, and I longed for the comfort of my own bed. We would also use the time to get in some of Nico’s doctor appointments as well as his therapies, to make sure he was prepared for the final trip of the season. The plan was then to head to South Korea to start to acclimate to the time change (although it’s not exactly the same, it’s sure closer than Atlanta!) And to get in some last-minute training in the amazing push facilities in PyeongChang. Covid had other plans.
Covid outbreak puts off plans
The last few races we had quite a few breakouts of cases among the bobsled and skeleton World Cup gang. It started to look extremely dangerous to do too much travelling. Additionally, to enter South Korea, Nico needed his vaccine exemption form because he’s one year old and there’s no vaccine for his age group. At the time, we did not have it. It wasn’t clear if we’d get it in time. Finally, with all the travel we had done the season and for Nico as well, it just didn’t make much sense to hop on two long haul flights before the Games- so the decision was made to stay in Europe and go directly from here to Beijing.
Instead, we chose to have a training camp in Switzerland. It’s provided a little bit of a break. I actually have been able to take a moment and sit down and watch cartoons (!!!) with Nico. It sounds simple but it’s something I haven’t been able to do all season. Every day during the season it felt like Nic and I were running around like headless chickens: fulfilling our bobsled duties and be the best parents we could to Nico. We both have been so tired, so this decrease in travelling has definitely been a reprieve. Nico is doing great - loving life, enjoying having his parents around more. Plus, his doting Abuelo (my father). We’re all just taking a deep breath and trying to prepare for the Games.
Son Nico is no distraction
Some people still think having a son and being a parent is a distraction - but I can honestly say without Nico I would have never made it this far. He is my reason for continuing to push in the face of adversity and to continue to go after my goals. He has ignited a new passion for me for bobsleigh and has shown me what true strength is. Some people will have me believe that if I don’t medal in these Games in both disciplines then I failed, but to those people - if you only knew what it took to get here - you’d say we’ve already won.
I don’t know how this will all end up, but I hope it shows people that it’s possible to perform at a high level and be a mother and I hope it encourages federations to allow their athletes to pursue their family and athletic dreams.
"We all hope to make you proud!" - Elana Meyers Taylor
As this is my last blog before show time, I wanted to say thanks to YOU the reader. For following our story and all your support.
Tiffeny Parker- thank you for all you’ve done for us- we wouldn’t be here without you. You are an angel sent from heaven. To Lauren Gibbs - thanks for constantly working to put a smile on Nico’s face. To Lake Kwaza - thank you for teaching Nico and constantly being by my side whenever I needed you. To Lolo Jones- thank you for encouraging Nico to clap, walk, and go after his milestones. To Aja Evans - thank you for singing and constant positivity for Nico. Thank you to Kaysha Love and Sylvia Hoffman for picking up the slack when I was pre-occupied with mother-duties. To my coach Brian Shimer - thank you for including Nico in video and showing him how to work the iPad- he loves watching bobsled videos now.
Thank you to so many people who helped us on this journey. We all hope to make you proud!
The Taylors are headed to Beijing! LET’S GO!