While the first ever four-man bobsled race took place in 1924, it wasn’t until 2002 that the first ever women’s bobsled event–the two-woman bobsled–was held. And it was quite the event too! So in case you missed that history-making moment, allow me to fill you in on the RAD life of Vonetta Flowers.
1. Southern And Proud
Vonetta Flowers is an Alabama girl to the core–born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. She even went to college at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. While she was getting her education in, she was a star sprinter and long jumper on the university’s track and field team. She consistently made her home state proud with her talent (see below) and infamous world records. And they showed her so by electing her into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in December 2010.
2. Anything Boys Can Do Girls Can Do Better
Strong girls stand up! Well, that’s exactly what Flowers did back in 1982 when her soon-to-be longterm coach, Dewitt Thomas hit the scene. He showed up to Jonesboro Elementary School in order to seek out the fastest track star tikes in the town. Little boys and girls showed up to show off and earn a spot on the track team. Thomas recorded their names by their first initial and last name and the fastest time was V. Jeffery. V as in Vonetta (not Victor). Pow!
3. She’s Always First
After she showed Coach Dewitt Thomas that first is the only place she knew to be, the firsts continued to flood her life. She was the first in her family to attend college. The first athlete at the University of Alabama at Birmingham to be a Seven-Time All-American…and wait for it: She was the first 1st person of African descent (male or female) –from any country–to win a Gold medal in the Winter Olympics! Way to make that 2002 first-ever two-woman bobsled event memorable right?! She was also the first person from Alabama to win a medal (period) in the Winter Olympics. Get it girl!
4. Determination Is Her Middle Name
Now don’t let all those “firsts” fool you. Flowers earned every last title because of her talent of course, but also because of her determination. She always dreamt of being an Olympian ever since her sweaty childhood days, which is why she ran track, played volleyball and basketball in high school. Talk about increasing your chances, right?! She went out for the Summer Olympics several times, however after several failed attempts, Flowers found bobsledding (or more like bobsledding found her).
5. Cool Runnings Just Got Cooler
From track start to bobsledder: After several injuries, surgeries and attempts to join the Olympic Women’s Track and Field team as a long jumper, Flowers retired in 2000. She was ready to start a family, but thanks to her husband Johnny, her plans of retirement turned into a full blown new career. Literally two days after the 2000 Olympic trials, he spotted a flyer urging Track and Field athletes to tryout for the U.S. bobsled team. So, tryout they did (even though Vonetta was still dealing with the reality that she would not live out her lifelong dream of competing in the Olympics). However, shortly after the competition started, Johnny pulled his hamstring. Vonetta agreed to live out his dream by completing the six-item test. And boom, there she was 18 months later, making history with a gold medal around her neck at the the Winter Olympic games!
6. She Runs On Ice
What a story, what an inspiration, what a life! Several folks have recognized this, which is why Flowers has adorned several prestigious lists such as Essence Magazine’s 50 of the Most Inspiring African-Americans, Ebony Magazine’s 57 of the Most Intriguing Blacks and People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People. And if that is not enough to make you want to get your life then get her book, “Running on Ice: The Overcoming Faith of Vonetta Flowers.” Inspired much?
Robbie Ann Darby (RAD Experience) is a professional FitGirl, Group Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer in NYC. Follow her sweaty life on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for more fun health and fitness tips!
Check Out The U.S. Bobsled Team!
1. We're RAD & We Know It! The Women’s US Olympic Bobsled Team
If girls don't run the world, I don't know who does. This week's recent announcement of the Women’s US Olympic Bobsled Team has proven that the ladies rocking the red white & blue in Sochi will be quite a RAD line up. Track stars turned bobsledders unite in a way that is bound to be GOLD! Are you wondering what makes this year's team so RAD? Well then, check this out. Gooooo team USA!
2. Lolo Jones- Ms. Running Thangs
Lolo is her name and the Olympics are her game. The infamous two-time Olympic hurdler has officially been announced as one of the three pushers for the team. And while many may be glad to see this beauty in the Olympic playing field again, many think the whole entire thing is a publicity stunt. All I can say is, let the games begin. It's not easy to be 1 of 9 Americans to compete in both games. Medals don't lie!
3. Lauryn Williams- Ms. I Don't Quit
Runners are running the game ladies. Williams is another track star turned pusher for the team. However don't be fooled, she knows a thing or two about bobsledding. After the many victories she collected as a track star, she was forced to retire in 2013 due to an injury. And while many would have been done, she turned things around and picked up bobsledding in July 2013. Can you say persistent?! Love it!
4. Aja Evans- Ms. NFL Bobsledder
If you want it all you can have it all! Don't believe me, ask Evans. As another track star diva turned bobsled pusher, this lady plays no games. She competed in the shot put and sprint events at the University of Illinois and it was her college coach who first offered up the idea of bobsledding. Well look at her now! This lady comes from a family lineage of athletes and trains with NFL players...can you say BEAST!?
5. Elana Meyers- Ms. Victorious Veteran
No one can accuse this wonder woman for being a "walk on." As one of the three drivers on the team, Meyers has been in the bobsled game for seven years. And boy does she have the medals to prove it. She has collected six medals so far this season alone, and you better believe two of them are gold. I think I feel a third coming on!
6. Jazmine Fenlator- Ms. Smart & Fast
Another veteran in the house! Fenlator has been bobsledding since 2007 and like most of her other team members, used to smoke girls on the track. This seems to be a trend, because her college track coach at Rider University also encouraged her to take her laps to the snow. She is ranked seventh in the nation and when she isn't collecting medals she's collecting degrees. Fenlator is currently getting her 3rd--an MBA.
7. Jamie Greubel- Ms. World Cup
Nobody wants to mess with this east coast girl from PA. Greubel has claimed five World Cup medals and currently leads the U.S. women in points as the second ranked driver in the world. She joined the team in 2007 as well and started as a brakeman/alternate for the U.S. Olympic Team that competed in Vancouver in 2010. However today she has transitioned to the role of driver and is beyond ready to bring home gold!