Elana Meyers Taylor announces pregnancy during break from bobsled competition

Elana Meyers Taylor
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Elana Meyers Taylor, the most decorated U.S. Olympic bobsledder in history with medals in all five of her Olympic events, is pregnant with her second child and will not compete this upcoming season, her agent said.

Meyers Taylor, who came back from having son Nico on Feb. 22, 2020, won a silver and bronze medal at the Beijing Winter Games and become the most decorated Black U.S. Winter Olympian in history. She is on a previously announced indefinite break from competition.

“I’ll take some time to really decide what my career looks like going forward, but I know I’m not done being in a bobsled,” Meyers Taylor, a Georgia native, told NBC’s Atlanta affiliate after the Olympics in March. “Whether that means 2026 Olympics, I don’t know yet.”

Meyers Taylor cited a desire to race on the World Cup circuit in the U.S., which she hasn’t been able to do the past two seasons because it didn’t make North American stops due to the pandemic.

“I want that opportunity again,” she said in March. “So I’ll be sliding at some point, competitive sliding, but what exactly that looks like four years down the road, I have no idea yet.”

She could go for a first Olympic gold medal in 2026 and to tie the current U.S. female record of five Winter Olympic appearances. At 41, she would break the record for oldest U.S. female Winter Olympian in a sport other than curling, according to Olympedia.org.

Meyers Taylor, who converted to bobsled from softball, is already the only U.S. Winter Olympian to enter at least five medal events and win a medal in all of them.

She is tied for fourth on the U.S. career Winter Olympic medals list behind Apolo Ohno (eight) and Bonnie Blair and Bode Miller (six). Speed skaters Eric Heiden and Chad Hedrick also won five medals. All of those athletes competed in at least seven career Winter Olympic events, more than Meyers Taylor’s five.

This past February, she was voted by her peers to be the U.S. flagbearer for the Opening Ceremony but after testing positive for COVID-19 was replaced by speed skater Brittany Bowe. Meyers Taylor later served as flagbearer for the Closing Ceremony.

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Francesco Friedrich, Olympic bobsled legend, sets retirement plan

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German Francesco Friedrich became arguably the greatest bobsledder in history through meticulous preparation. It’s not a shock, then, that he mapped out his retirement nearly four years in advance.

Friedrich, who won two- and four-man bobsled gold at the last two Olympics, plans to make the 2026 Winter Games in Italy his last competition.

Friedrich, 32, outlined the retirement decision in a video published last week and confirmed it in an email Monday.

In Beijing, Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis became the first bobsledders to win two gold medals at multiple Olympics. Women didn’t get two events until this year.

In 2026, Friedrich and Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The next Olympics will have added significance for the Germans because they will be in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, the nearest Winter Games host to Friedrich’s native Saxony in 50 years.

Friedrich said his wife, Magdalena, suggested finishing his career at the 2023 World Championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland, site of the first of Friedrich’s record 11 world titles between two- and four-man a decade earlier.

But they decided to go all the way to 2026 and plan to make the Milan-Cortina Winter Games a big celebration after having a limited entourage in Beijing.

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Mariama Jamanka, Olympic bobsled champion, retires

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German bobsled driver Mariama Jamanka, who won gold and silver at the last two Winter Olympics, announced her retirement on Wednesday.

Jamanka, 31, is leaving competitive sport to take up studies in Berlin, according to German press agency DPA.

She wrote on Instagram that in sliding she experienced highs she never expected and lows that most couldn’t imagine.

In 2018, Jamanka and push athlete Lisa Buckwitz won Olympic gold by seven hundredths of a second, combining times from four runs, over Americans Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs.

It marked the first women’s bobsled medal for Germany, the traditional world power in the sport, since 2006 and the start of a new era following the retirements of Cathleen Martini and Sandra Kiriasis earlier in that Olympic cycle.

Jamanka had never before won a World Cup race, but it was just the start of her success. She won the world championships and the World Cup season title the next year.

This year, she and Alexandra Burghardt took two-woman silver at the Olympics behind countrywomen Laura Nolte and Deborah Levi.

Born to a Gambian father and German mother, Jamanka was a hammer and discus thrower when a coach suggested she try bobsled in 2013. She initially studied YouTube videos to learn the nuances of each track.

NBC Olympic research contributed to this report.

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