ATLANTA — Elana Meyers Taylor knows better than most the significance of speed. She's one of the world's best bobsled pilots and is anxious to prove that title once again at the Beijing Winter Olympics. She went from a star softball player who could throw 70 miles per hour at her high school in Douglasville, Georgia to an elite professional bobsledder, and the first woman to pilot a four man team. Not bad for someone who once didn't own a winter coat.
Now, after winning three Olympic medals and a slew of World Championships over 15 years, Elana is entering her fourth Olympics as part of Team USA.
"I feel incredibly grateful," she told 11Alive. "It's insane to think this is the 4th, four is no easy feat."
These Winter Games also come with challenges. Two days after traveling to Beijing for the Olympics, Elana tested positive for COVID-19. She said she was asymptomatic and was isolating at a hotel. With her first event not scheduled until Feb. 13, she possibly has enough recovery time to allow her to still compete.
During the last winter games in 2018, Elana raced and won silver on a torn Achilles tendon. However, more trials and blessings would be ahead.
"It's been a crazy journey since Pyeong Chang," she said. "One of my biggest goals was to start a family, so, we are so fortunate to be here and living this dream."
Elana's training partner, fellow Olympic bobsledder Nic Taylor, is also her husband. The two met back in 2011 when Elana was interning for the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation. Two years later, Nic proposed at 2013 World Championships as Elana stood at the podium, NBC Sports reports. They officially tied the knot a year later in 2014.
Photos | Elana Meyers Taylor and Nick Taylor
"He was a track coach, so he helped me with the technical aspects, work on my ankle, makes my bobsled spikes, really focus on performance, psychologist as well, our relationship has grown through the sport," she told 11Alive back in 2018.
Recently, Elana and Nic welcomed a baby boy named Nico in early 2020. A few weeks back, Elana penned a Facebook post on returning to the competitive ring after her pregnancy and encouraging more female athletes to have the courage to do the same.
"It’s possible to do extended breastfeeding and physically perform better than most in the works. It’s possible to travel the world with your family, including a baby, and win races," she said in the post.
"She is going to be in the best shape of her life and that is saying a lot," Nic added. "She is 37 and a mom."
According to Nic, having the three together during training is fun, even if it is a bit of a family circus.
Little baby Nico also serves as an inspiration to his pro-athlete parents. He was born with down syndrome and is deaf in both of his ears.
"For Elana to take a gold medal and put it around Nico's neck, it's really our entire family goal, that is what we are doing all of this for," Nic explained.
Elana said that she wants to continue to grow their family as well, adding "it's kind of weird knowing there are more years behind me than ahead of me, so it's one of those things that you want to take in every moment and enjoy it because it's almost over."
She said at the end of the day, she wants her children to know what it means to represent one's country and to put on a Team USA uniform every day. However after more than a decade, Elana still said nothing matches the sensation and thrill of driving a bobsled with no breaks, and hitting top speed over a mile of ice.
"It feels like I'm flying, like I'm gliding and that everything is right," she said.
The first women’s monobob event is on Feb. 13 and there are training heats in the days before. You can watch the Olympics on local NBC affiliates, such as 11Alive. For online content and streams, NBColympics.com and Peacock will be the place to go. A few other stations will also carry the games on TV.