Olympics: Elana Meyers

Vonetta Flowers became the first African-American bobsledder from any country to win a gold medal in the Winter Olympics when she and Jill Bakken topped the podium at the 2002 Salt Lake Games. And the current U.S. women's bobsled team diversity reflects her legacy.

"It's pretty cool we're talking about how diverse the team is," 2010 Olympic bronze medalist Elana Meyers said recently while training at the test event for the 2014 Games outside Sochi. "We all started from Flowers. That's when most women started hearing about it, from Vonetta, with all the hype centered around her incredible accomplishment. Starting out there and following in her footsteps is pretty cool."

The 2012-13 World Cup team has seven black athletes: drivers Meyers and Jazmine Fenlator, plus brakemen Tianna Madison Bartoletta (a London 2012 gold medalist in the 4x100), Lolo Jones (a two-time Olympic hurdler), Aja Evans, Cherrelle Garrett and Maureen Ajoku. Driver Jamie Greubel and brakemen Katie Eberling and Emily Azevedo are white. (There are also two African-Americans on the men's bobsled team.)

"It really was just a matter of looking for the best athletes," Meyers said. "It wasn't something we really even thought about until the media started asking about us about it. As a driver, I'm just trying to get the fastest pusher possible because I know that's going to put me in the best possible position to get a medal.

"It doesn't matter where you come from; there's no concern whether we're diverse or not -- we're just going for the fastest pushers possible."

Meyers played a big part in the recruiting process. She suggested that Jones give bobsled a try several years ago and said she recruited others by sending out Facebook messages to as many athletes as she could find on the National Strength and Conditioning Association's list of All-Americans.

One of those who responded to the Facebook message was Eberling, a former volleyball player who was student-teaching. "It was an unusual way to get into a sport," Eberling said. "The first time I read it, I thought, 'This has got to be a joke.' Then I called my mom and read it to her and we laughed about it, but the more I read through it, and then actually talked to Elana, that's when I took it more seriously and realized this was a huge opportunity."

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