Softball alumna becomes most decorated Black athlete in Winter Olympics history

Media Credit: Photo Illustration by Sydney Walsh | Assistant Photo Editor

Elana Meyers Taylor was the U.S. flag bearer for the Closing Ceremony on Sunday after being elected by her fellow team members for the honor.

Softball alumna Elana Meyers Taylor captured her fifth Olympic medal and second of the Beijing Games with a third-place finish in the two-woman bobsled Saturday.

Following her silver-medal performance in the first-ever women’s monobob, Meyers Taylor took home the second bronze of her collection in the two-woman bobsled with Sylvia Hoffman, making her the most decorated Black athlete in winter Olympic history. Meyers Taylor has reached the podium in every showing of her Olympic career, winning the bronze medal in 2010 in her debut and the silver medal in 2014 and 2018 in the two-woman bobsleigh competition.

“I’ve been on Olympic podiums before, but I can’t think of any that’s been harder to get than here,” Meyers Taylor said in a Team USA release. “So it’s just been incredible and I can’t even put into words what this means.”

As the most decorated Team USA Olympic bobsledder of all-time, Meyers Taylor broke a tie with speed skater Shani Davis to become the most decorated Black athlete in Winter Games history while also becoming the first woman to collect two bobsled medals in a single Olympics with the addition of the monobob event this year.

“That is overwhelming,” Meyers Taylor said. “It’s so crazy to hear that stat and know I’m part of a legacy that’s bigger than me.”

Meyers Taylor had been selected as Team USA’s flag bearer, but missed the opening ceremony after testing positive for COVID-19 on Jan. 29, two days after her arrival in Beijing. But Meyers Taylor announced that she had been cleared from isolation on the Today Show on Feb. 5 after receiving two negative COVID-19 tests.

Despite the time spent in isolation, Meyers Taylor placed second in the monobob behind Team USA’s Kallie Humphries who won the gold medal while Canada’s Christine de Bruin won bronze.

In her their medal win, Meyers Taylor and Hoffman came in third in the first two runs behind a duo of German sleds on Friday and then fortified their position over the final two runs on Saturday, setting a record push time of 5.30 seconds in the third heat while finishing with a combined time of 4:05.48 by the final run.

Germany’s Laura Nolte and Deborah Levi captured the Olympic title with a total time of 4:03.96 while Mariama Jamanka and Alexandra Burghardt held up the rear with a second place finish for Germany as well with a combined time of 4:04.73.

Meyers Taylor was the U.S. flag bearer for the Closing Ceremony on Sunday after being elected by her fellow team members for the honor. The last bobsledder to receive the honor was Brian Shimer, who won the four-man bobsled bronze medal in 2002 and has coached Team USA since.

“I can’t say enough about Elana,” Shimer said. “It’s not just how she performs on the ice, but who she is as a person. It brings me back to my own career, when I won the bronze medal in 2002 and carried the flag in Closing Ceremony. I’m reliving that moment, and feel like this is how it was supposed to end.”

Prior to her Olympic career, Meyers Taylor was the first recruit of the GW softball program, named two-time A-10 Student-Athlete of the Year and CoSIDA Academic All-American. Taylor was inducted into the GW Athletics Hall of Fame in 2014, had her number 24 retired a year later and also received an honorary Doctorate of Public Service during Commencement in 2018.

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