Overcoming it all: Humphries, in US colors, reaches Olympics
BEIJING (AP) — Here’s a list of some things that Kaillie Humphries overcame this season: Being ineligible for the Beijing Olympics because she didn’t have a U.S. passport, testing positive for COVID-19 and a relatively serious hamstring injury.
And now, traffic.
Humphries cannot use Olympic transport yet, since she tested positive for the coronavirus last month and still hasn’t satisfied every requirement to be considered fully cleared by Chinese officials. That means she must find her own way to the Yanqing Sliding Center for training sessions, and suffice to say, a taxi driver earlier this week didn’t exactly know the necessary route.
“I got stuck on the highway because buddy can’t get to the sliding village because he doesn’t have a pass,” Humphries said. “I’m trying to get to the track on time, trying to talk to the U.S. Olympic people, they’re trying to get a translator to phone the taxi guy, and I’m there watching my dreams get away.”
The problem was solved. She got to the track.
Such has been the story of her season: No obstacle, big or small, has thwarted her plans to represent the U.S. in this year’s Olympics.
These have been trying days for the U.S. bobsled team, which has both of its women’s drivers — Humphries and Elana Meyers Taylor — dealing with virus issues. Humphries has been able to get on the track this week; Meyers Taylor’s situation is a bit more dicey at this point, though there is still more than enough time for her to return the negative tests that she’ll need before being allowed to compete.
Much of the team’s coaching staff — which was also besieged by positive tests in recent days — remains in California, ready to charter over to China in a few days and in plenty of time for official training. Men’s bobsledder Josh Williamson is with them, still hopeful that he’s virus-free in time for what would be his first Olympics.
Things are trending the right way, at least. There is optimism that everyone dealing with a virus-related matter won’t see their Olympic plans slip away.
“Medals are getting handed out,” Humphries said. “You’re here. It’s literally just kind of survival of the fittest.”
She tends to thrive in those situations.
Humphries only got her passport two months ago, barely in time to be eligible to compete for the U.S. in Beijing. She has raced for USA Bobsled for three seasons after getting her release from Canada, the country for which she won Olympic gold for in 2010 and 2014, then Olympic bronze in 2018. But she felt like she was verbally and mentally abused by a Canadian coach, didn’t slide in the 2018-19 season, then was permitted to join the U.S. team.
She won world titles last season in both the traditional two-person event for women and the new monobob discipline, where only the driver is in the sled. And she intends to compete for gold in both events at the Beijing Games as well.
“I mean, two months ago, I wasn’t coming to the Games,” Humphries said. “And then you get citizenship — and it’s like, OK. And then you get COVID — and again it’s like, OK. It’s literally been a step-by-step process and we’re working through each step as it comes up, just kind of going with the flow and trying to adapt as best we can.”
Humphries won’t be fully cleared until next week. That means she won’t walk with her U.S. teammates into Friday’s opening ceremony.
That disappoints her, but her eyes remain on bigger prizes.
“It’s not the end of the world,” Humphries said. “I just focus on recovery. I can still get everything I need now, which is great. It’s all been stressful and, yes, it adds another element that I wasn’t prepared for, that I wasn’t expecting. But at the end of the day, the big things are still getting met.”
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