Most of the athletes competing in this year’s Winter Olympics are having to do so without any family members nearby. But Team USA bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor is an exception.
Her husband, Nic Taylor, an alternate for the men’s bobsled team, arrived in Beijing with her, and as a nursing mother of a nearly 2-year-old toddler, Taylor was allowed to bring their son, Nico, to be by her side.
However, a positive COVID-19 test soon separated them.
“Longest as I’ve been away from (Nico), before this incident, was nine hours, I think,” Taylor explained in a video chat with TODAY. “At most.”
Taylor’s COVID-19 diagnosis came shortly after she arrived in China’s capital city. It forced her to give up the opportunity to be one of Team USA’s two flagbearers at the opening ceremony — a privilege she passed on to speedskater Brittany Bowe — and it forced her to take an unexpected measure in caring for her son.
The 37-year-old had to send bottles of pumped breastmilk to Nico during her time in isolation. She included handwritten messages of love on the bottles delivered to him daily.
“This Olympics has been definitely the most challenging Olympics I’ve been to,” Taylor said of the experience.
And that’s saying something from an athlete who’s been to three other Winter Games — and who has two silver medals and a bronze to show for it.
Adding parenting and COVID-19 to the usual Olympic routine makes for a far different experience. But it's an experience she remains up for.
"I’m taking it hour by hour and just doing what I can to be the best I can in that hour and just know that it’s not always going to be perfect," she said.
Taylor has since been cleared to compete, and according to an update on her Instagram Stories, she finally had the opportunity to reunite with Nico Tuesday night.
Earlier Tuesday, Taylor shared a photo of Nico with his arms up in celebration, along with a caption that read, “The feeling when your entire family has two negative test and gets out of isolation tonight!"
That's sure to be a boost for the bobsledder who recently told Weekend TODAY that Nico is what drives her in the 2022 Games.
“I just want to show him that you can face obstacles and have challenges and overcome them and go after your goals,” she said. “This Games has turned out to be one of the most challenging ones I’ve ever competed at, and I just want to show him that his mother never gave up.”