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Former sprinter Jenna Martin-Evans chases Olympic spot in bobsled

As a world-class sprinter, Bridgewater's Jenna Martin-Evans had massive speed and power. Now she'll try to bring those skills to the ice.
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As a world-class sprinter, Bridgewater's Jenna Martin-Evans had massive speed and power.

Now she'll try to bring those skills to the ice.

The 29-year-old Martin-Evans, now living in Calgary, is competing for a place on Canada's bobsled team for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

She is attempting to become a brakeman, with the task of rocketing the sled off the start line. While she's been training for the sport since last winter, and been in the ice house since June, she's yet to go down a bobsled course.

Martin-Evans ran the 400 metres, making it into the semifinals, at the 2012 Olympics in London. She continued her competitive career until last summer, but injuries, particularly to an Achilles tendon, slowed her down and led to her retirement from the track.

But the competitive fire never went out. She's been training this summer with a group of prospects for the national bobsled team with the serious business of making the roster starting next month.

"I'm just kind of mixed in there with everyone and learning a lot," she said in a recent interview. "It's going really well so far, actually.

"I'm still such a newbie I don't know what steps are after this. I know we have another camp in September and that will start eliminating people."

It all started with a message from Kallie Humphries, now a two-time Olympic gold medallist and world champion, not long after the London Olympics.

"She asked me if I was still going to pursue track," Martin-Evans said. "She was very interested in me trying bobsled and to hopefully be a brakeman for her. I told her I was going for another four-year cycle and try to get to Rio."

As soon as she didn't make the team for Rio, the calls from the bobsled community picked up again.

"I took a good six months off because of my Achilles injury and I think that rest was the absolute best thing. Knock wood I haven't had any issues since."

There is plenty to learn.

"Right now it is learning the technique and getting everything down pat," she said. "Once we start team pushing, we'll get more of an idea where I fit in. Time is going to tell where I'm going to be placed."

It's a considerable sacrifice. Her husband, DeQuin Evans, is a defensive lineman for the B.C. Lions. Their relationship goes back to when they were varsity athletes at the University of Kentucky.

So what's the attraction to bobsled after long years on the road in track and field?

"The attraction is to be a Winter Olympian," she said. "Just to be able to be a Summer Olympian and a Winter Olympian. I have this competitiveness in me that's never going to go away

"When the opportunity arose, I thought I might as well try it. It's an Olympic year ... and if I could make the team, that would be awesome and if I could be Kallie's brakeman, that would be amazing, too. I'm taking it one step at a time and seeing where the journey takes me."

It appeared she was ending her athletic career when she hung up her track shoes, but she was already thinking about bobsled.

"At times I thought I definitely wanted to transition to bobsled. At other times I didn't. Maybe I wanted to go back to school. I didn't want to do the long-distance thing with my husband. We want to start building a family soon and settle down and find a destination where we are going to live. But we decided we couldn't pass up this opportunity."

There are definite parallels between the two sports. It's not uncommon for track athletes to push bobsleds.

"I thought it would be easy because all you have to do is push a sled, get in and brake. But it's so much more than that. It's very technical.

"They are pretty much telling me to expect the worst. That way I'm prepared. Either way, I'm committed. So let's go."



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