BEIJING (KXAN) — From basketball to bobsled, Texas brakewoman Sylvia Hoffman is making her Olympic debut at the Beijing Games. She’s never shied away from pursuing her dreams.
“I want people to see that whenever I compete, that this woman has ran miles, has pushed miles, just to get to where she is,” Hoffman said.
She made her Olympic dreams come true when she was recruited to be on the Team USA women’s bobsled team through a reality show, The Next Olympic Hopeful.
It was tough at first. With China’s strict Olympic bubble protocols, some of the bobsled team’s key members were forced into quarantine or were delayed in getting to the Games because of COVID-19.
“We’re taking punches here, we’re taking punches,” Hoffman said.
But when life throws punches, Hoffman punches right back. She isn’t letting anything take away from her first Olympic experiences, like the opening ceremony.
“And kind of have the head nod like, ‘Hey, you made it too? Yeah.’ So it’s like a comradery thing between all the Olympians,” Hoffman said.
”I’m walking under the Olympic rings, and I’m looking up, and I’m like, ‘This is just for me … I am an Olympian, this is my time,’” she continued.
Her time will come on Friday in Beijing, as she races with Olympic veteran Elana Meyers Taylor.
“She’s been our push champion the last four years. I can tell she’s got a little nervous energy going, which is the kind of feeling I like,” said Meyers Taylor.
Hoffman’s journey is bigger than her. She’s just one of a handful of Black athletes competing in Beijing.
“We have people of color who are able to show the world, like, ‘Hey, we can do this. Hey, this is the Winter Olympics, that doesn’t mean that we’re counted out, as a people, as a culture,’” she explained.
To be at the Games is to be a representation that you can do and be anything, despite any doubt or struggles along the way.
“I’m here, and I am a representation of someone who is 32 years old, someone that does have scoliosis and was told, ‘Hey you might not make it that far,’” Hoffman said.
“But here I am, and I’m one of the best brakemen in the world.”
Hoffman currently holds world records for the fastest push times, which are critical in starting the two-woman bobsled races off strong.