American bobsledder Justin Olsen might not leave the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics with a gold medal, but he will walk away knowing the level of adversity he was able to overcome.
Olsen competed in the men's two-man bobsled competition, along with teammate Evan Weinstock, only 13 days after undergoing an emergency appendectomy in South Korea, and he was still wearing his hospital bracelet as a reminder of his journey to his third Olympics.
"Everybody can relate to facing adversity," Olsen said (per ESPN). "Stuff never happens when you want it to happen. Yeah, I was upset that I had to have surgery, but it could have been worse. What I've learned ... most of the time the 'why' is irrelevant. It's something we have to deal with. You just try to turn the situation into a positive, and I'm just happy that I can compete."
He wasn't confident after his surgery that he'd be able to compete in Pyeongchang as he said, "I felt pretty bad," adding, "I wasn't optimistic." He credited Team USA's sports medical staff for creating "an amazing recovery plan."
Olsen and Weinstock are 12th overall and 0.82 behind the top German sled as they head into Monday's final third and fourth runs. The results and how they finish during these Games don't matter to the duo nearly as much as just being able to compete together.
“I’m just happy that I can compete, and I’m not sitting in the sled and Evan’s pushing me,” Olsen said. “He’s worked really hard. He’s sacrificed a lot. I really admire the pusher that he is. He said it’s funny how things work out.
"We linked up two, three years ago, and I told him, ‘Hey, man. If you want to make it, just trust me. There are going to be some bumps along the way, but just stick with me, and we’ll be all right. We’ll do some things.’ And here we are at the Olympic Games together. He’s probably one of my closet friends on the team. And I wouldn’t change that for anything.”