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Meyers Taylor, daughter of former Navy star running back, in women's bobsled contention

Americans Elana Meyers Taylor, left, and Lauren Gibbs celebrate after their second heat of the women's bobsled. They're 0.07 of a second off the lead entering Wednesday's final two runs.
Americans Elana Meyers Taylor, left, and Lauren Gibbs celebrate after their second heat of the women's bobsled. They're 0.07 of a second off the lead entering Wednesday's final two runs. (MOHD RASFAN / AFP/Getty Images)

PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA — Elana Meyers Taylor went to sleep four years ago after the first night of her Olympic competition holding the lead, and her mind couldn't stop racing.

She plans on sleeping better this time.

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Germany's Mariama Jamanka and Lisa Buckwitz are the leaders at the midway point of the women's bobsled competition at the Pyeongchang Games, their two-run time of 1 minute, 41.26 seconds on Tuesday night putting them 0.07 of a second ahead of Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs.

Not holding the lead at halftime didn't seem to bother Meyers Taylor whatsoever going into Wednesday night's final two runs.

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They called him Fast Eddie, though he'd as soon run over football defenders as around them. For three years, Eddie Meyers carried Navy's offense, smashing school rushing records and leading the Midshipmen to three successive winning seasons (1979-81), a feat they wouldn't repeat for nearly 25 years.

“I'm going to go attack the track and it's going to be what it's going to be,” said Meyers Taylor, the daughter of former Navy star running back Eddie Meyers, who rushed for 2,935 yards from 1978 to 1981. “Either I'm going to win a medal or I'm going to go down swinging.”

After the first two sleds, it's chaos.

Germany's Stephanie Schneider and Annika Drazek are third, Jamie Greubel Poser and Aja Evans are fourth for the U.S. and two-time defending gold medalist Kaillie Humphries and Phylicia George are fifth for Canada — those three sleds separated by 0.04, and none of them more than 0.34 off the lead.

As was the case in two-man bobsled, a final-night shootout for gold awaits.

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“We're going to fight like hell,” said Humphries, who rallied for gold in Sochi four years ago. “Experience is always nice. It's comforting.”

Americans Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs start their run in the first heat.
Americans Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs start their run in the first heat. (MARK RALSTON / AFP/Getty Images)

For as much attention as there is on the leaders, there seemed to be even more on the team that is last in the 20-sled field.

Nigeria made its women's bobsled Olympic debut, the team of Seun Adigun and Akuoma Omeoga posting the slowest time in both heats and ending the night 3.50 seconds behind the leaders.

In their case, time and placing is irrelevant. Being Africa's first bobsled team to qualify for this stage meant they won long ago.

“We're setting the groundwork for what to build on for the country of Nigeria and the continent of Africa,” Adigun said. “With a little time, we can be just as competitive.”

Meyers Taylor, 33, a George Washington graduate, and Gibbs set start records in both heats — especially impressive since Meyers Taylor, who won bronze as a push athlete in 2010 and silver as a driver in 2014, is dealing with a left Achilles strain. But Jamanka found plenty of speed toward the bottom of the track, and took the lead after topping Meyers Taylor by 0.09 in her second run.

Two-time U.S. Olympic bobsled medalist Elana Meyers Taylor pledged to donate her brain for concussion research in hopes of helping other female athletes. "I think the hardest thing for me, just being an advocate for women in sports, was knowing that women are more likely to suffer concussions but...

“This is what I've been preparing for,” Gibbs said. “This is what it's supposed to feel like.”

Greubel Poser and Evans were four-tenths of a second slower in their second run than the first. But confidence, much like was the case with Meyers Taylor and Gibbs, wasn't lacking as they left the track Tuesday night.

“We're going to give it everything, so they better watch out,” Greubel Poser said.

Greubel Poser and Evans won bronze together in Sochi four years ago. All three medalist drivers from 2014 — Humphries, Meyers Taylor and Greubel Poser — could find their way to the podium again, but only if the Germans falter a bit.

“This doesn't worry me in the least,” Evans said. “Jamie's like me. We kind of work well with a little fire under our butts, so I'm excited to go at it. Listen, trust me, we'll sleep a little more peaceful than a lot of other people.”

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