U.S. bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor glorifies God as she makes Olympic history

After adding two more medals from the Beijing Winter Olympics to her career collection, which came after a bout with COVID that kept her from attending the opening ceremony, U.S. bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor carried the American flag for Sunday’s closing ceremony.

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“This is truly quite an honor,” Meyers Taylor told NBC during the ceremony. “I can’t imagine anything greater than this.”

It capped an impressive run in Beijing, the fourth Games for Meyers Taylor. An aggressive run down the bobsled track for her and brakewoman Sylvia Hoffman earned the Americans a bronze medal in the two-woman bobsled competition that finished Saturday. Meyers Taylor also nabbed a silver medal in the debut of the women’s monobob event on Feb. 14.

These two Olympic medals for Meyers Taylor now give her five for her career. She also won silvers in the two-woman competition in 2018 and 2014 and a bronze in 2010, as well as eight world championship medals (four golds). Her fourth and fifth Olympic medals in Beijing make her the most decorated woman ever to compete in Olympic women’s bobsled, as well as the most decorated Black athlete in the history of the Winter Olympics.

“It’s so crazy to hear that stat and know I’m part of a legacy that’s bigger than me,” the 37-year-old Meyers Taylor said, according to Team USA.

She continued later: “I’ve been on Olympic podiums before but I can’t think of any that’s been harder to get than here,” she said. “So it’s just been incredible and I can’t even put into words what this means.”

Meyers Taylor was supposed to be the flag bearer for the opening ceremony, but tested positive for COVID-19 on Jan. 29 and was in isolation. The positive test makes her success at the Olympics even more impressive, considering she was dealing with lingering symptoms and a loss of precious practice time.

“This is better than gold,” Meyers Taylor said after capturing her monobob silver medal, according to USA Today. “This is definitely the most difficult medal I’ve ever earned. It’s definitely been the hardest journey to get here. So this is the most special, by far, and I am so excited to take it back to my son.”

When Meyers Taylor’s now nearly 2-year-old son, Nico, was born in February 2020, doctors suspected he had Down syndrome. Nico spent his first eight days in the NICU, where the suspicion was confirmed. Nico also wears hearing aids due to his profound bilateral sensorineural hearing loss.

With the challenges of a new baby with Down syndrome, and those challenges heightened by the COVID-19 isolation, Meyers Taylor and her husband, Nic (a former U.S. bobsledder himself and now his wife’s trainer), wondered if she would ever compete in international bobsled competition again. She set her mind to it and slowly clawed her way back, all with little Nico in tow.

“I realized she’s different. And she’s special,” Nic told NBC Sports last year. “And whatever that is, I don’t have it.”

Now, Meyers Taylor is ranked No. 1 in the world in the women’s monobob and the two-woman bobsled, and she’s back at the top of her sport, as evidenced by her success in Beijing. So why did Meyers Taylor continue her rigorous training to get back to the Olympics in spite of all her obstacles?

“God put me here for a specific reason and I don’t think it’s just to win medals,” she told Athletes in Action in 2014. “At the end of the day, I’m in this sport to glorify God, so if that means I come in last place or I win the gold medal, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Meyers Taylor, who came to faith in Christ during her time as a softball player at George Washington University, was baptized in 2013 along with Nic while the two were still dating.

“We know God is using our time here for a purpose,” Meyers Taylor told the Fellowship of Christian Athletes prior to the PyeongChang Olympics in 2018. “It’s exciting to be able to go through this and think about what stories we’ll share with our (future) kids later, and what will come of all of this.”

Now, with husband Nic and son Nico with her at every step, she’s enjoying every moment.

Meyers Taylor has yet to reveal if she plans to continue in the sport after returning from Beijing.

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