Overcoming the challenges you may face

Hi! I’m super excited to be an Athlete Role Model for Lausanne 2020 and I’m really looking forward to being able to help you, the next generation of athletes! Throughout the YOG, I’m going to be there to answer your questions, support you and cheer for you, and I hope that by sharing some of my experiences with you, it will take you less time than it took me to figure out some of the challenges that I had to face during my years in sport. I can’t wait to meet those of you staying in St Moritz, but until then you can find lots of useful stuff on Athlete365 – the community platform that is here to support you before, during and after the YOG.

  • American bobsledder Jamie Greubel Poser won bronze medals at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014 and the 2017 World Championships.
  • She had to overcome several challenges on her journey to the podium, including injury and funding difficulties.
  • Here, she reveals how you can overcome these and other challenges that you may face in your own careers.

I never would’ve thought I would be a bobsledder. I never grew up competing in any winter sports; I rode horses, I played field hockey and did track and field. Then after college the opportunity came around to try bobsleigh, and it completely changed my life.

I think it took me a couple years to realise what an incredible opportunity I had in front of me; that I had the opportunity to train for a sport and go to the Olympic Winter Games. If I had the chance, I think I would tell my younger self to follow your heart and your passion for sports, as it’s going to lead you on an incredible journey that you could never imagine.

All of you preparing for Lausanne 2020 are lucky to have this opportunity, and going to these Games will be incredibly inspiring for you. So enjoy every minute and every moment; just take it all in, because you never know where it might take you.

Back yourself
To succeed in sport, you really have to want it for yourself. That is one of the things that I really want to share with you; you have to be your own biggest believer. If you’re passionate about the sport and you want to be successful, you, above anyone else, have to go out and fight for it and believe in yourself. That can be a hard thing to do because a lot of obstacles come up along the way. But believing in yourself and going after what you want are very important.

Do what you need to do
Funding can obviously be a huge challenge when you’re starting off. Every country has a different system, but I had to pay for absolutely everything myself in the beginning. So I had to waitress just to be able to pay for all of my costs during the season. It was tough; not only trying to train to be the best I could be physically, but also having to waitress eight hours a day after that training just to be able to afford to go away to races. But if you want it badly enough, you’re going to do whatever it takes to make it happen.

Get the community behind you
One of the most important things you can do is share your journey – including at Lausanne 2020! There are so many people out there who want to hear about what you’re doing. They want to be involved in your journey. Being an Olympic athlete is such a unique and special thing, and letting your local community be a part of the whole process is very important.

While I was competing I lived in Lake Placid, which has hosted the Olympic Winter Games twice and where the people have such a passion for winter sports. Because of that, they were always so interested and supportive of me and my journey. They helped me find my way, and they were there if I needed anything. Having a community behind you like that can make all the difference in your career. 

Having a community behind you like that can make all the difference in your career. 

Use setbacks as an opportunity
After missing out on Vancouver 2010, I decided to switch to driving because I wanted to take my destiny in my own hands. But after my first year as a pilot, I tore the ACL in my knee. At that point, I really had to ask myself: “What am I trying to achieve? How am I going to make that happen?”

It was very focusing for me. I had to really sit down and ask myself how badly I wanted this, what I was willing to do and how hard I was willing to work to get back on track. So I didn’t spend too much time feeling bad for myself because I still had a big goal to achieve, and that was getting to the Olympics in 2014.

Start thinking about a ‘Plan B’
As you get older, you should make sure that you’re aware of what comes next. I know sometimes that’s hard to think about when you’re competing and when you’re focused on being successful in a sport; it was the same for me. But it’s important to think about your life after sport because we never know how our sport careers are going to go. Some people are fortunate enough to be able to make the decision and say, “I’m done. I want to move on.” But some people unfortunately don’t get that decision. Sometimes injuries are the deciding factor. So, having a plan B becomes really important.

That’s why the transition went smoothly for me; I had a plan and I knew what I wanted to do. I had everything set up to move into teaching. You don’t have to do it the same way I did, but the important thing is that you’re thinking about what you’re going to do next.

Nothing worth it ever comes easy
Whatever comes up along your journey, you can handle it and you can get through it. Obstacles always come up on your journey, but it strengthens you and it strengthens your character to get through them. The experiences that you gain overcoming these challenges will help give you the strength you need on this journey. The motto that I always live by is that, “Nothing worth it ever comes easy.” The struggles that you face and the challenges that you overcome make everything you achieve more worthwhile in the end. You can stand on the podium or not, but it’s important to know that you have given everything that you possibly could have done. So good luck, and see you in Switzerland!

In the build-up to Lausanne 2020, we will be hearing from an Athlete Role Model from each winter sport. Follow @Athlete365 on TwitterFacebook and Instagram for the latest updates.