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Elana Meyers Taylor is no stranger to Olympic starts gone wrong.
A partially torn left Achilles tendon prevented her from walking during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. But weeks later, Meyers Taylor won a silver medal while wearing spikes modified by husband, Nic Taylor, and enough duct tape to make a mom proud.
“Then it just got destroyed,” she said of her Achilles, adding, “Luckily I was able to recover.”
In Beijing, 37-year-old Meyers Taylor hopes to weather another round of opening adversity in the same way. Originally chosen as the flag bearer of the United States, she had to watch the Parade of Nations from solitary confinement in a hotel room. Meyers Taylor had tested positive for coronavirus shortly after arriving in China, so on Friday her pride in her accolade had been tempered by concern that her Games would be over before they had started.
On Saturday night, she was in tears for the right reasons: She said she cried after receiving her second consecutive negative test. This allowed him to come out of isolation and return to full training for the monobob event and the two-man bobsleigh competition. Meyers Taylor, triple medalist, will be among the favorites for both events.
“I came here to participate in these Games, and I have been dragging my son for two years, all over the world,” she said. “I put my family through all of this to make sure I could live that Olympic dream, and finally be able to do it and finally be able to get out – it’s, in some ways, a bit of a redemption.”
The positive test had introduced a difficult set of circumstances for Meyers Taylor and her husband, a substitute for the US men’s bobsled team, to navigate as they juggled parenthood, the pandemic and the Olympics.
The couple traveled to China with their 2-year-old son Nico, who has Down syndrome and profound hearing loss, and Meyers Taylor’s father, Eddie Meyers. The family took the Covid tests after landing in China. Two days later, a stunned Meyers Taylor learned that she had tested positive; she was moved to a room away from her family to await her confirmation test.
They were allowed to stay in the same hotel while the others waited for their results, so she could still breastfeed Nico. After all four family members tested positive, they were taken individually to an isolation hotel. Meyers Taylor stayed alone, two bedrooms away from her family, to give herself the best chance of being allowed to compete.
She filled the six days talking to her family members; to cramped and innovative workouts (she had a barbell delivered for weightlifting); and expressing breast milk. “It seemed like the days went by pretty quickly, because I felt like I was busy all day,” she said.
Escaping isolation, however, was bittersweet. His family members are asymptomatic and remain in isolation. Meyers Taylor plans to resume regular training and pump breast milk which will be delivered to Nico once a day. But his path to an elusive gold medal is still viable.
“I think about the journey and what it took to get here, and in some ways it’s a gold medal,” she said. “In some ways, just being able to get to the start line is a gold medal in itself. But in other ways, yes, I still want that gold medal.