Heading into the Sochi 2014 Olympics, there are a number of riveting storylines to follow amongst Team USA Olympians, but there may be none as compelling than that of Jazmine Fenlator. A participant of the U.S. bobsled team, Fenlator will be the person in the car when fans tune into races, and getting to this point has been a compelling story to say the least.
The 27-year-old grew up in New Jersey as a track and field athlete, and went on to compete in shot-put, discus and hammer while attending Rider University, which is located in Lawrenceville, N.J. While at school, Fenlator set records for indoor shot-put, outdoor shot-put and discus, but still looked like a long-shot at best to ever participate in the Summer Olympics in any of these contests. In fact, it appeared that she was content to simply take home a Bachelor’s Degree in Multimedia Communications and Advertising instead of pursuing further sporting opportunities after college.
But shortly after graduating in 2007 from Rider, Fenlator received a phone call that would change the course of her sporting life. On the line was one of Rider’s track and field coaches, who asked Fenlator if she would be interested in trying out bobsled. When Fenlator decided that she would give the sport a try, a part-time passion and part-time nuisance was born.
By the end of 2007, Fenlator was participating on a bobsled team, and in 2008 she jumped into the cart. In this time, she started participating in big-time races, and even won a silver medal at the 2008-09 America’s Cup. At the start of 2010 she joined the World Cup competition tour, and soon after began competing for medals, in turn establishing the first real glimpse of hope that competing at the 2014 Olympics would be possible.
During the 2012-13 season, Fenlator truly broke out as a top racer, as she won a silver medal and bronze medal while competing in 11 different World Cup competitions. Throughout the 2013-14 season, she only built upon these medals, winning another silver medal and finishing in fourth place twice while only competing in only four World Cup events. Meanwhile, she also secured a spot on the U.S. Olympic Bobsled Team in 2014, completing an unlikely turn of events.
While Fenlator may have made turning from a track and field athlete to an Olympian in bobsled in only seven years look easy, it can be assured that things off the race track were not so easy. The life of a bobsled racer is by no means luxurious, and so the 27-year-old has had to maintain jobs as a shipping clerk and car mechanic just to make ends meet on a consistent basis. When this is combined with the fact that she has completed a Master’s Degree in Exercise and Science from California University and is now pursuing an MBA in Marketing from DeVry University, it is truly a wonder that Fenlator ever has time to participate in bobsled events.
But compete she has, as Fenlator now ranks amongst the best bobsledders in the world, and will head into the Sochi 2014 Olympics with her head held high. She may not be a favorite to pick up a medal, and is not even the biggest name in bobsledding in Sochi — that title belongs to Lolo Jones – but that does not take away from the major accomplishment it has been for her to make it this far in the first place.