Historic bronze makes Elana Meyers Taylor most decorated Black athlete in Winter Olympics history

Bronze medal winners Elana Meyers Taylor and Sylvia Hoffman of Team United States.
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Elana Meyers Taylor raced into the Olympic record books Saturday in Beijing, teaming with U.S. teammate and brakewoman Sylvia Hoffman to capture a bronze medal in the two-woman bobsled event. By earning her fifth Olympic medal, Meyers Taylor becomes the most decorated Black athlete in Winter Olympics history.

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“It’s so crazy to hear that stat and to know that I’m part of a legacy that’s bigger than me,” said the 37-year-old Meyers Taylor. “We want everybody to come out regardless of the color of your skin. We want winter sports to be for everybody, regardless of race, regardless of socio-economic class. I think the more diversity we have, the stronger our sport can be. So hopefully this is just the start of more and more people coming out and trying winter sports.”

The bronze marked the fourth Olympic medal in the two-woman bobsled event for Meyers Taylor, who claimed bronze in 2010 and silvers in 2014 and 2018. The Georgia native already claimed silver in the women’s monobob earlier in the Games.

“There’s a lot of people that came before me: Vonetta Flowers (two-woman bobsled gold in 2002) is the reason I’m here, and (speed skater) Shani Danis, and even Erin Jackson,” said Meyers Taylor, who was also quick to give credit to Hoffman as well. “It’s just been such a long legacy of Black athletes at the Winter Olympics and hopefully it just continues.”

Meyers Taylor now stands as the most decorated woman bobsledder in the sport’s history, and she’s the first U.S. athlete outside of ice hockey to win a medal in the same event at four consecutive Olympic Winter Games. The bronze-medal win also made her the second U.S. woman to win at least five Winter Olympics medals, after speed skater Bonnie Blair (five gold, one bronze).

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Germany swept gold and silver, with Laura Nolte and Deborah Levi earning the win with a combined time of 4:03.96, and Mariama Jamanka and Alexandra Burghardt finishing second at +0.77 back. Meyers Taylor and Hoffman finished at 4:05:48, +1.52 behind the winners.

The American duo moved into the bronze-medal position with clean runs in the first two heats, finishing at 2:02:79. In their final two runs Saturday, they retained their position after their third run – their fastest at 1:01:13 – and fourth (1:01:56).

Beijing marked the first Olympic appearance for Hoffman. The 32-year-old from Philadelphia was recruited into the sport in 2018 after participating in the reality show, “Scouting Camp: The Next Olympic Hopeful.” She didn’t win anything there, but Hoffman did catch the eye of coaches who invited her to a rookie “push camp” in Lake Placid, N.Y. She won the rookie event and went onto win the national push championships.

“There has been so much work trying to get to this point,” said Hoffman, who was diagnosed with scoliosis at age 12 and wore a back brace for 16-18 hours a day as a teenager to avoid corrective surgery. “Squeezing four years into two and a half years for this particular plan, having to change my entire program.

“Me and Elana – we hadn’t raced together (before lead-up to Beijing), we had like one race this World Cup season, so we had to put in a lot of work just so we could get on the same page.”

Meyers Taylor punched her fist in the air as she reached the finish line after her final run, and she hinted at retirement after Beijing in her post-competition interview.

“I’m going to take some time to really think about this,” said Meyers Taylor, who shares 2-year-old son Nico with husband and fellow U.S. bobsled athlete Nic Taylor. “It’s going to be really hard to top this Olympics. … I still love driving a bobsled. I’ve still got the legs for it, but as far as the Olympic Games, it’s too early to tell but we’ll see what happens.”

She got some unfinished business to attend to first: After testing positive for COVID-19 shortly after her arrival in China and missing out on Opening Ceremony, where she was selected as one of the U.S. flag bearers, she was selected to lead Team USA into the Closing Ceremony as flag bearer.

“There’s so many great athletes they could have chosen,” said Meyers Taylor. “The fact that they recognized what a big deal it was to be chosen at the Opening Ceremony and gave me the opportunity to walk anyway in Closing… I can’t even put into words what that means to me, and I can’t wait to get out there on the floor and experience it.”

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