When I was in the 4th grade, the thought of becoming a professional athlete inspired the drawings my teachers would ask of us during our free time. I would have drawings of myself playing soccer for the biggest clubs in the world or several drawings of the Olympic rings. What started from drawings has now manifested itself; the journey has led me to become a professional Bobsleigh athlete – a sport that my friends, family, nor I would have ever thought I’d be in, but a sport that has grown on me.

I grew up being involved in various sports such as soccer and track & field. However, there came a time when I had to choose between the two sports. And because soccer was the sport, I was more passionate about, I left track & field to focus solely on it. Growing up playing youth soccer and leading up to the men’s league, I was never the most skilled player but my physical presence and work ethic helped me progress in the sport and earn opportunities. Along the way, I battled through several knee injuries that required surgery, but my determination and will to continue to play were always there, regardless of the setbacks.

My last stint playing soccer was in 2020 when I was abroad in Portugal on trial with 1 Dezembro FC. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, I had to return to Canada which I had difficulty in accepting as I finally felt like things were going my way. Things were much harder after that point as professional leagues were shut down, and finding trial opportunities became more and more challenging due to my lack of previous professional experience. My motivation to continue pursuing the sport became low, and I decided to step away from the sport.

After several months, I had already missed being an athlete and the daily grind that came with it. It was not until March of 2021, I connected with Neville Wright – who is now my current coach. We started discussing the sport of bobsledding, training, and my goals. I made it clear to him that it was not a sport I would want to do fun, and that if I were to pursue it, I would want to make the National team – I was not going to settle for anything less. In my first year out at the prospect camp in October of 2021, things were going decently well and we were in Whistler for the evaluation process. Unfortunately, I did not continue on with the rest of the team as I had torn my meniscus, and would have to get yet another surgery – my third knee operation. I was able to get my surgery in the new year in January and the rehab process began.

Several months had passed, but the goal remained the same – land a spot on the National team. Finally, that opportunity came in October of 2022 when I was officially selected for the National team, which brought a lot of joy and excitement. I had checked off the first step on this journey to qualify for the Olympics Games in 2026. In my first season, I was able to participate in the World Cup Circuit as well as the World Championships in Switzerland. I came a long way following knee surgery, but I know the journey is not over yet. There is still a lot of work left to be done, and less than 4 years before the Olympics Games in Cortina, where I hope to compete alongside some of Canada’s best athletes.

The promise:

On September 25, 2009, my grandfather passed on my dad’s side. I remember sitting in my room after getting the news; I made a promise to myself. I promised I would pursue my dreams to the fullest not only to honor my grandfather but my family as well. They are my biggest why, and why I continue to push through the many obstacles I have faced. All that I am and all that I hope to be, I owe to my parents. Despite my setbacks, quitting has never been an option. This dream is bigger than me – I am no longer just doing it for myself, I am doing it for them.

My goal heading into my next season is to push myself to race on a top Canadian sled on the World Cup circuit. More importantly, I hope to establish and build relationships within the community and gain support from companies/organizations. As the African saying goes: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. And so, I am hoping to find partners who are willing to stand beside me and say “We believe in you.”

Written by Kenny M’Pindou