Lauren Gibbs - Unlikely Olympian
Written by Lauren Gibbs 2018 Olympic Silver Medalist
I think when most people think of an Olympian, they picture a 20 something year old athlete that has been groomed in their sport for most of their life. At 34-years-old, as I glance over at my Olympic Silver medal emitting light (or so it seems) it is still hard to believe that I can now and forever call myself an Olympian. I found the sport of bobsled at the age of 30 by complete accident. It started with a simple question from a friend of mine in a Crossfit gym. “How much do you back squat?” Jill Potter 2016 Rugby Olympian asked me in passing. After a few follow up questions back and forth Jill confessed, “I think you should bobsled.” The suggestion came at possibly the worst and best time in my life. Worst, I was just finishing up my Executive MBA from Pepperdine and was expecting or expected to climb the corporate ladder. Best, because if I had been honest with myself, that ladder, wasn’t for me. I pursued the beginning steps to become a bobsledder with very little sincerity; after all, this wasn’t something I could actually do.
I still remember the day of my combine, making the drive down to the Olympic Training Center (OTC) in Colorado Springs, snapping pictures, buying mementos because I was certain that hot day in August of 2014 was going to be the beginning and end to my bobsled “career”. In most cases, I really hate to admit to being wrong but for this, I made a concession. Just weeks after completing my combine I was invited to a rookie push camp in Lake Placid, NY where the second OTC was located. Taking a week off from work and heading to camp I still had no intention of actually being a bobsledder but I figured living at a training center for a week would be cool and maybe I would meet some Olympians. I was right, it was and I did. As I headed home the top rookie of my class with numerous messages from coaches, other athletes and friends from home, I still could never have imagined what was in store for me.
By October this bobsled idea was not only still in my head, I was standing at the top of a bobsled track fastening my helmet and preparing for what ended up being the longest minute of my life. Surprisingly, I liked it, I was terrified but alive, I was hooked. For the next three and half years I would significantly pair down my life style; I gave up my apartment, sold my furniture on Craigslist and my car to my dad. I was between training centers in the summer training and traveling the world in the winter competing, living out of a suitcase and schlepping most of my worldly possessions every where I went.
Year after year, slowly but surely I made progress. Not coming from a track and field background and being a self proclaimed motor moron made my Olympic Dream tricky at times. I was competing against collegiate level track athletes that hadn’t spent the last decade sitting behind a desk and weren’t in their 30’s. The only thing I had on them was my work ethic. I knew my time in this sport would be limited, at best I had one quad (four year period in between the Olympics) in me so I had to make it count.
Bobsled wasn’t just my sport, it became my life. Whether I made it to the Games or was left off the team I was going to prepare with everything that I had so that if given the opportunity I knew I was the best. I was going to work so hard that when I stood on the starting line, got into position and heard the roar of the crowd, there would be no doubt, no nerves, there would only be a feeling of calm knowing that I had prepared for this with every ounce of my being….
EN NOTE: Lauren's story is truly inspiring. It goes to show that with hard work and dedication we can accomplish almost anything.
We're proud to see how far she has come, we're proud to see all of the hard work she put into her passion, and especially proud to have her as a part of the EN Family.
What's it like to win an Olympic medal? Watch Lauren and Elena Meyers Taylor recap their silver medal run here.
Also, watch Lauren explain some of her success story in the press conference below.