“This is certainly a surreal moment knowing that over a half-dozen athletes are joining their respective Olympic teams after honing their skills here at ETSU,” said Dr. Brad DeWeese, an associate professor of sport, exercise, recreation and kinesiology. “Sharing this journey and moment with the campus community and surrounding region is an honor.”
USA Bobsled and Skeleton recently announced the members of the U.S. Olympic Men’s Bobsled Team, which will include Hakeem Abdul-Saboor, Steve Langton and Chris Kinney, an ETSU graduate.
John Daly, another athlete who served as the visiting Olympian for ETSU’s Olympic Day last June, will also be returning to the USA Skeleton Team this year. Chris Mazdzer will be joining the U.S. Olympic Luge Team and Seun Adigun will be driving Nigeria’s first women’s Olympic bobsled team.
These six athletes, who all trained at ETSU last summer, will be joining Lachlan Reidy, who will serve as brakeman for the Australian Men’s Bobsleigh team. He has also trained at ETSU in the past.
DeWeese said it has been an amazing experience training these athletes to help them prepare for the games, which will begin February. In addition to training athletes, he has also been training other graduate students to be Olympic trainers and coaches.
“We had about five graduate students who committed to the summer training. They did a great job of being there helping set up and serving as assistant coaches for the athletes,” DeWeese said.
Though bobsledding differs from the luge and skeleton competitions – which are individual sleigh races – he said strength training and speed training are important for each competitor. And as the competitions inch closer, athletes and trainers have to turn up the intensity to prepare for the Olympic competitions.
“This is the fourth Olympics for me, so it’s kind of the same pattern where the first two years focus on the development,” he said. “As it gets closer, the stress gets higher because it's do-or-die, sponsorships are on the line and spots are on the line.
“You try to absorb some of that stress off the athletes so they can focus on the training process.”
Alex Wetmore, who is in his last semester of the sport science master program, said training with athletes outside of the classroom is a unique, hands-on experience.
“It’s been an incredible experience because it’s unique to ETSU and the program on the Olympic site. We not only learn in the classroom, but we work as coaches with high-caliber athletes,” he said. “It’s something not everybody gets.”
DeWeese and Wetmore both said training Olympic athletes at ETSU should help put the region on the map as a place that produces some of the country’s best athletes. DeWeese said he is looking forward to seeing how all of these athletes represent ETSU’s Olympic training program.
“It’s an amazing experience to be able to bring Olympians through Johnson City and for this area to say they have some hometown heroes competing in South Korea,” DeWeese said.
For more information on the Olympic Training Site at ETSU, visit www.etsu.edu.