I need to write. And I need to write while the emotion is still raw, before I have the chance to let my rational mind consume my thoughts as it tries to help me sleep at night. My hope is that maybe someone can learn something from my words, that it can change something for someone, but if not, hopefully it's cathartic enough for me to help me get some sleep at night.
So how does it feel to feel like you choked in front of the whole world? How does it feel to have your lifelong dream slip away literally from your fingertips? It sucks.
So what happened? This is a question I will ask repeatedly for the next four years. I felt physically good and I mentally felt in the best place possible to drive my sled well. I'm usually very strong in the biggest pressure situations, which is how I landed the nickname of E-Money or Money Meyers, the pressure excites me and usually brings out the best of me- this time it just didn't.
I finally watched the last run of the race and realized I didn't quite look like myself- I looked well...exhausted. And I was exhausted before the race had even started. I'd mentioned before that my Olympics had been extremely tough, and it had been. It began with the initial Olympic team selection, where some brakeman were chosen and others not and the hate mail started to come. I should've had tougher skin, but I never would've thought I would've been told I'm a horrible person for something I didn't choose; I took it too much to heart and got stressed out. It then continued with brakemen race-offs in Sochi (which are always stressful), which resulted in a gash in my shin that required a stitch and a bone bruise, brakeman switches, and yes more hate mail. We finally get to race week and there's problems with equipment, I crash (whiplash), and then my sled breaks (and even more whiplash)- like gets completely totaled- and reassembled again. So needless to say I was absolutely exhausted, but I still believed in my power to come back from all of this and succeed and win the gold. I still believed that despite my exhaustion I was going to be able to perform at the highest level- and I was doing it...and then it slipped away. Was I too exhausted? Did I just finally hit my mental limits? I don't know...
I know people are proud of me, but I also know that I'll be for we criticized as having choked at the Olympics and to those people at this time I don't have much to say. I honestly don't know what happened. I did everything right- I ate right, slept the required hours, and followed my coaches instructions to a tee, but it just didn't happen. I lie awake at night trying to figure out why, yet the answers don't come. I know they will eventually surface, but I know it will take some deep reflection. I'll get some answers eventually, but right now I'm just stuck with my emotions and stuck trying to figure out how to move past all this so I can begin the next four years.
I can't change what happened and even as I grasp to make sense of it all, I'm still at a loss. At the moment I feel like I let my coaches, teammates, Lauryn, all of America down, and nothing seems to reduce the sting. The tears come easily now, but each time they come I'm reminded of what happened and how I never want to feel this way again.
As I go on with my career, even if I win a gold medal I'm sure that I won't forget the pain I feel right now, but if I am fortunate enough to win a gold medal, I know it will be because of this moment. I will use these feelings as motivation- as a guiding force to teach me what I need to to move forward. I will figure out what went wrong and how to become a better athlete because of it. I will take this moment and use it as an opportunity to grow as a person and an athlete. I'm motivated more than ever now to become the athlete I know I can be. I will learn everything I need to from this situation and become even stronger.
This post may seem strange to most people who would say "Hey- you won a silver medal at the Olympics"- but my goal at the Olympics wasn't to win a medal necessarily, it was to put down four great runs, and I didn't do that. I let myself down, but the outcome was still a medal. I'm proud to have won a medal for my country and I'm proud of the effort I put out to do it. My friends and family sacrificed so much, and my fiancé has perhaps sacrificed the most in terms of time, energy, and financially. I worked extremely hard for this hardware, and I'll forever cherish it. I've made history- I'm the first black pilot to win an Olympic medal, the first woman to win a medal as a pilot and a brakeman, and the first US woman to win two bobsled medals- that's quite an incredible feat!
At the end of the day I have to appreciate the journey to this point- the journey to win this Olympic medal. I've learned so much and I've grown so much as a person. I am a better daughter, sister, fiancé, and athlete because of the past four years and the journey to Sochi. At the end of the day, I may have lost the gold, but there's definitely a silver lining.