Lyndon Rush (centre) poses for a photo with Justin Kripps and Alex Kopacz after they won gold in two-man bobsled at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang last month. Photo submitted

Sylvan Lake’s Lyndon Rush recounts Olympic experience

Rush attended the 2018 Winter Olympics as one of the coaches from the Canadian Bobsled team

For Sylvan Lake’s Lyndon Rush the Olympics are just like any other race.

The former Olympian, and current coach of the bobsled team for Canada, says his approach to the Olympics is the same as when he was an athlete; to look at it like any other race.

“It’s just a race. Sure there is more people and media attention, but when you get down to it, it is still just a race,” Rush said in a recent interview.

Working with athletes through the race is a bit different from actually participating in the race, according to Rush.

He says there is a lot to consider as a coach coming up to a race. A big difference is who is responsible for what.

“As an athlete you just think about yourself and what you have to do. As a coach you have to look after your athletes and the other teams and a lot of little logistical things that as an athlete don’t even enter your mind.”

Though there is a lot to consider and think about leading up to and during a race, Rush says it is still exciting.

In particular watching Justin Kripps and Alex Kopacz win the gold medal in two-man bobsled was a highlight of the entire trip.

“It was so exciting. Everything that we have worked on in the past year paid off in a big way for them,” Rush said.

Over the last year Rush has worked with Kripps and Kopacz on their consistency. He says there were many runs where the two would finish great but drop in subsequent runs.

So, in the months leading up to the Olympic Games, and throughout the world championships, Rush worked and drilled consistency into the Canadian athletes.

“Their win shows how much consistency pays off in the end. The didn’t fall in any other their runs, really, and it paid off,” said Rush.

There was a different relationship between Rush and 2018 Olympic bronze medalist Kaillie Humphries. Rush says the two didn’t work together much as Humphries knew what she needed and when.

The dynamic was also affected by Rush and Humphries competing together on the Olympic stage.

“We were peers while I was still competing, except when I retired she kept on going.”

Watching Humphries win the bronze medal wasn’t as exciting for Rush, who called it “more of a thank goodness” moment.

“She wans’t at the top of her game this year, and suffered during some of her runs,” Rush said. “When she medal-ed it more like a relief.”

Rush said he was particularly proud of the other female athletes who competed at the Olympics. While they didn’t medal they did come in at sixth and seventh, which Rush calls respectable.

This was the first time these athletes competed and he was very proud of them.

“Generally you don’t expect to reach the podium your first year… With how they competed this year we will be working with them so they will reach the podium at the next Olympics,” said Rush.

The Olympics have changed a bit for Canada, according to Rush.

In the past Canadians were the darlings of the Winter Olympics, though never seen as a threat.

Within the last decade or so, Canada has become a real contender in the games.

“Other teams are coming up with plans specifically for us,” he says. “We aren’t the sweethearts anymore. We are there to compete and to win.”

Over all, Rush says the Olympic games in PyeongChang were great and he loved seeing how well organized the city was.

He said it was clear the city and country was very well prepared for the Olympics, and everything was ready for the games.

“Nothing can beat the volunteers we had in Whistler though, they were just great,” said Rush, who competed and won the bronze medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

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