YANQING, China — Alexandra Burghardt adjusted her new Winter Olympics outfit in a resort just a few miles away from the bobsledding observe within the mountains outdoors Beijing.
“Typically I really feel like a double agent,” she mentioned. “Two lives to deal with.”
In August, Burghardt was operating the 100 meters within the blazing warmth of Tokyo’s Summer time Olympics. Now, six months later, she discovered herself in subzero temperatures in China, suiting up for the bobsled within the Winter Video games.
She joins a protracted line of sprinters turned bobsledders, runners whose explosive pace and power on the observe can translate to the ice. However this summer-to-winter Olympic whiplash was excessive. The Tokyo Olympics have been postponed a yr due to the coronavirus pandemic and held in July and August 2021, six months earlier than the beginning of the Beijing Video games. Burghardt is without doubt one of the few athletes who will compete in each — two Olympics in lower than a yr.
For Burghardt, the turnaround was much more disorienting, provided that she hadn’t even considered competing in a Winter Video games till September.
The German bobsled federation had lengthy courted Burghart, 27, one among Germany’s quickest sprinters, hoping she may very well be the newest observe star to push a bobsledding crew to a gold medal. “All of us knew her,” mentioned Rene Spies, the top coach of the German bobsled crew.
She politely declined for years. “Oh yeah, the German bobsled federation has wished for it for a very long time,” Burghardt mentioned. “I’m fairly tall and quick and that’s precisely what they want for a great brakewoman, however I needed to get on with my precise sport first and attempt to attain my full potential earlier than beginning on a brand new journey.”
After affected by setbacks and accidents by a lot of her profession, she did attain a brand new degree up to now yr. She made the German Olympic crew and clocked her quickest 100-meter time within the month earlier than the Tokyo Video games: 11.01 seconds.
In Tokyo, she ran within the ladies’s 4×100-meter remaining, wherein the Germans positioned fifth. She additionally superior to the semifinals of the 100 meters with a time of 11.07 seconds.
“Tokyo was already a childhood dream come true,” Burghardt mentioned. “Then there was this chance with Beijing, and I needed to offer it a attempt, and now we’re right here.”
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Burghardt’s development from giving it a attempt to making an Olympic crew was significantly swift. Kaysha Love, one other sprinter turned bobsledder who took the quick observe to those Video games, had not less than touched a bobsled earlier than 2021.
In 2018, a sliding coach reached out to Love’s observe coach on the College of Nevada-Las Vegas expressing curiosity. Her first time in a bobsled was in November 2020. The expertise was terrifying, she mentioned, but it surely cemented a objective: She would make the Olympic crew. She completed her observe season and turned her full consideration to bobsledding in July 2021.
“The tip objective was at all times going to be the Olympics,” Love mentioned. “I knew I used to be first rate, at finest. I knew I had lots of work to do, however I wasn’t scared to place within the additional effort.”
Now she’s very a lot in. She was chosen as a brakewoman for the U.S. Olympic crew, and she or he already has ambitions to study to pilot a sled after the Video games.
Burghardt was extra skeptical, agreeing to coach for bobsled provided that she might proceed to work together with her sprinting coach and get again to the observe full time as quickly as she left China.
However she preferred bobsledding from her first run — a promising signal for Spies, the German coach, who mentioned many athletes get sick on their first run from the mix of pace and strain. Burghardt’s method wasn’t nice, he mentioned, however she managed to enhance on her subsequent run. She was added to the World Cup lineup two days later.
Her improvement was so spectacular that she is now paired with Mariama Jamanka, a bobsled driver who’s defending her 2018 Olympic gold medal. They have been in second place after two heats within the two-woman occasion, with the ultimate heats scheduled for Saturday night time in Yanqing.
Burghardt mentioned she was honored to compete with Jamanka and was excited to seek out herself on the Olympics once more. “I didn’t actually have the time to return down,” she mentioned of the fast transition. “I’m simply using on this cloud.”
She is already debating whether or not to race in a German indoor observe meet per week after these Olympics. She can be wanting ahead to getting again on observe together with her coach in Switzerland in March, after which coaching camp in April. Then, she mentioned excitedly, the season begins in Might.
“It’s a really huge yr for observe additionally, with the World Championships and the European Championship,” she mentioned.
“Then,” she mentioned laughing, “I’m going to wish an enormous break.”