Elana Meyers Taylor

Elana Meyers Taylor
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Elana Meyers Taylor’s claims of racism in bobsled being investigated

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Bobsled’s international federation is investigating triple Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor‘s claims of racism in the sport.

Meyers Taylor, a medalist for the U.S. at the last three Winter Olympics, wrote in a first-person TeamUSA.org story that a coach from another country “was recorded saying several racist statements” and that her name “was drug through the mud.”

“The basic premise was that there were no good black drivers and that black athletes needed to stay in the back of the sled as they simply lacked the mental capacity to drive,” wrote Meyers Taylor, a brakewoman at her first Olympics and a driver at the last two. “Furthermore, the coach felt the need to specifically bring up my name several times, and this after I had won an Olympic medal and two world championships as a pilot, and even earned a spot on the US Men’s team as a 4-man pilot.”

The coach no longer works for that federation and, Meyers Taylor believes, hasn’t been rehired elsewhere in the sport. She did not name the coach or the federation. She stood by her statements in a Tuesday phone interview.

Meyers Taylor also wrote that a manufacturer of one of the fastest sleds on tour “refuses to sell to black pilots” and has been quoted saying, “If I wanted to see a monkey drive a sled, I’d go to the zoo.”

“It doesn’t matter how fast he’s able to make a sled, I’d give up a gold medal before driving a sled made by him,” Meyers Taylor wrote. “And yet there currently sits one of these sleds in the Team USA garage, serving as a constant reminder to me where people who look like me stand in this sport.”

A USA Bobsled and Skeleton (USABS) spokesperson confirmed the sled is in a Team USA garage and owned by an athlete, not the federation.

“We spoke with Elana about the situation, and she does not recommend that we remove the sled from the garage,” the spokesperson said. “The athlete who owns the sled was not aware of the alleged situation with the manufacturer, and its presence does not have ill intentions.

“I also want to reiterate that USABS condemns all forms of racism and discrimination, and we take this very seriously.”

The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) said it made immediate contact with Meyers Taylor and created a task force to investigate.

Meyers Taylor confirmed that the U.S. and international bobsled federations communicated with her. She is satisfied that both are taking her concerns seriously, noting the task force is a great first step. She is pushing the IBSF to create programs that allow minority athletes opportunities for success without obstacles.

“The biggest thing is to really look at the sport of bobsled, and all sports, and try and analyze where is racism and where it can be improved to prevent people with racist ideas and racial biases from having as much power as they do,” she said. “Racism occurs to all different types of people. Sport isn’t immune.”

Meyers Taylor, who sat out last season due to pregnancy, plans to compete next season, bringing 4-month-old son Nico with her on tour.

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Elana Meyers Taylor is pregnant, to miss bobsled season

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Elana Meyers Taylor, a triple Olympic bobsled medalist, is due to have her first child in March and will miss this bobsled season.

“It was always my dream to win two gold medals in the 2022 Olympics and place them around the neck of our child,” Meyers Taylor said, according to U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton. “When we were told by doctors that this might not be possible, I put all my efforts into winning two gold medals in 2022. However, they were wrong, and now I have the chance to live this dream. We are excited for our little miracle.”

Meyers Taylor and husband Nic Taylor, a veteran U.S. bobsledder, were married in April 2014 after meeting through the sport in 2011. They have competed together in international four-person bobsled races with Meyers Taylor driving.

Meyers Taylor earned Olympic bronze as a push athlete in 2010, then silver medals as a driver in 2014 and 2018. She also earned world titles in 2015 and 2017.

Meyers Taylor’s longtime Canadian rival, Kaillie Humphries, could also miss the season as she bids to switch representation to the U.S. A Canadian judge ruled against her on Tuesday, though U.S. Bobsled has said it would welcome her should she be released from Bobsleigh Canada.

German Mariama Jamanka, the surprise PyeongChang Olympic gold medalist, has taken over as the world’s top driver, winning last season’s World Cup and world championship titles.

The World Cup season starts in late November.

MORE: Kaillie Humphries loses bid to bobsled for U.S.

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U.S. Olympic women’s bobsled team named; no Lolo Jones

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Sochi Olympic medalist drivers Elana Meyers Taylor and Jamie Greubel Poser and medalist push athlete Aja Evans headline the U.S. Olympic women’s bobsled team for PyeongChang.

Lolo Jones did not make the team.

Meyers Taylor, Greubel Poser and Evans are joined by Olympic rookie push athlete Lauren Gibbs to round out the team.

“Unfortunately, I did not make the Olympic Team but I’m pumped for @lagibbs84 to make her first Oly team and join returning vets @eamslider24 @JamieGreubel and @AjaLEvans,” was tweeted from Jones’ account minutes after the announcement. “They will rep USA very well.”

Jones, 35, was bidding to become the first American to compete in multiple Summer Olympics and multiple Winter Olympics.

She helped push Meyers Taylor to her first World Cup win this season earlier Saturday in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

Jones hasn’t won an Olympic medal, and this was likely her last chance.

Jones led the 2008 Olympic 100m hurdles final before hitting the penultimate hurdle and finishing seventh. She was fourth in the 2012 Olympic 100m hurdles, then 11th in the her Winter Olympic debut in 2014.

She overcame shoulder surgery (November 2014), hip surgery (October 2015, which ended up causing her to miss the July 2016 Olympic Track and Field Trials) and concussion symptoms from an October bobsled crash.

Gibbs, 33, competed in six of the seven World Cups this season.

Jones competed in just one of the first six, then re-entered a World Cup sled Saturday for the first time since Nov. 18.

Jones and other push athletes who missed out saw their chances diminish Saturday morning, when Canada joined Germany as the two nations to earn the maximum three sleds for PyeongChang.

The U.S., which had three sleds in 2010 and 2014, was narrowly edged by Canada in the final quota standings.

“Six push athletes have been battling it out week after week and winning medals on the World Cup circuit this year, but we only have two spots for the Games,” USA Bobsled CEO Darrin Steele said in a press release. “We don’t take this decision light-heartedly. The selection committee chose the athletes they think have the best chance of bringing home hardware from Korea for Team USA. I wish we could take the entire team with us because they’ve all proven how hard-working and determined they are in addition to being incredibly talented.”

Meyers Taylor, the first female bobsledder to make three U.S. Olympic teams, will pair with Gibbs in PyeongChang. They will try to dethrone Canadian Kaillie Humphries, who seeks her third straight Olympic title.

Meyers Taylor led Humphries after three of four runs in Sochi but dropped to second place with Lauryn Williams in the last run. Williams retired in 2015.

Greubel Poser and Evans will share a sled again, just as they did for bronze in Sochi and at last season’s world championships.

The alternate push athlete is Briauna Jones.

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