Tags Posts tagged with "Olympics"


Jesse Owens. Pixabay photo

“It’s not a question of whether you will hurt, or of how much you will hurt; it’s a question of what you will do, and how well you will do it, while pain has her wanton way with you.”    ― Daniel James Brown, The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

Gazing over the tens of thousands of foreigners entering the arena that would be the 1936 Berlin Olympic games stood the presence of dictator Adolf Hitler. During the midst of the Great Depression, the tyrannical leader of Nazi Germany promised to rebuild his nation to its former glory.

In 1931, the International Olympic Committee permitted the summer games to be held in Berlin as a peaceful way of putting World War I behind the Europeans. Instead, the world saw the flying of Swastikas signaling the rise of Nazi Germany. The games began on Aug. 1, 1936, with Hitler present to watch his country prove its status as a restored national power.  

A rumored American boycott to oppose the fierce Nazi treatment of its minorities, loomed over, though President Franklin D. Roosevelt granted his country’s athletes to participate in these games. 

Watching the ignition of the Olympic flame, stood Jesse Owens or “Buckeye Bullet”. Owens a famed-athlete, grew up in an Alabama sharecropping family, where much of his childhood was riddled with racism. Despite his adversarial childhood, Owens went on to become a talented track and field athlete at Ohio State University. It soon became a goal of Owen’s to dispel the Nazi “Aryan” propaganda promoting others inability to defeat Hitler’s “Master Race” of athletes.  

Hitler’s much-publicized hatred did not shake the American resolve of Owens and the other African American participants. American runners went on to earn 11 gold medals in track and field; six by Black athletes, with Owens earning four gold medals and two impressive Olympic records. 

Later in the games, a fatigued Owens sought rest, with this, he offered the torch to American teammates, Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller suggesting they could compete in 4×100 race in his stead. Instead, Owens was directed to race and Glickman and Stoller, both of Jewish culture, were barred from participating. Concerns arose that American coaches were fearful of upstaging Hitler by using Jewish-American athletes to gain additional medals. 

An aspect of these games often overlooked is the athlete’s personal contention with the economic and social issues of the Great Depression. The economy was poor in Germany and its regime paid for the training and living expenses of its athletes. Many American athletes looked at sports in a secondary manner as they tried to gain essential items to survive. Americans had to contend with twenty-five percent unemployment and a struggling economy.

On Christmas Day, Hollywood released a heartwarming look at the tribulations of the Great Depression through the production of ‘The Boys in the Boat’, written by Brown and directed by George Clooney. Like ‘Cinderella Man’ and ‘Seabiscuit’, this film delves into the intersection of sports and the Depression. 

Even as the New Deal was established by Roosevelt, American people faced difficulties in finding work and buying food. ‘The Boys in the Boat’ is based on the Washington State Rowing Team’s quest to win the gold medal during the Berlin Olympics.  

This film, set on the outskirts of Seattle, chronicles the harsh extent of the Depression. It focused on Joe Rantz, who was abandoned by his family and forced to care for himself. Actor Callum Turner portrayed an engineering student facing the threat of removal from Washington State for being unable to pay his tuition. With holes in his shoes and making a home in an abandoned car, this student desperately sought a chance to improve his economic situation by trying out for his school’s rowing team. 

Joel Edgerton stars as Coach Al Ulbrickson, an uncompromising figure who demanded athletic and physical excellence. The film takes some artistic liberties depicting the triumphs of the team modifying the succession to highest levels of college and Olympic competition to one year as opposed to the three years presented in Brown’s book.  

As a director Clooney scores in the eyes of film, history, and sports fans. He portrays the determination of the team’s coach in utilizing a junior varsity team that would eventually become the best in the nation and would go on to win a gold medal. 

There are many moments that present Rantz’s competitive side. In the film, Rantz found a father figure in the team’s boat builder, a man who took a special interest in his athletic talents by constructing and maintaining their equipment. The builder provided sustinent advice on handling the complexities of life and listening to authority. This film identifies the American-will to persevere, showcasing a team pitted against highly-respected Ivy League crews. The film shares an outstanding story of American resilience to achieve greatness through the masterful stroke of Clooney’s direction.

Huntington Station luge competitor Matt Mortinson, on top, competes with teammate Jayson Terdiman in the Winterberg, Germany November 2017. Photo from USA Luge

After athletes from around the world raced across and flew over ice and snow in Beijing, much of it manufactured, some Olympians are likely to need to adjust to a return to their everyday life.

India Pagan, right, at last year’s summer Olympics opening ceremony. Photo Pagan

Two-time Olympian Matthew Mortensen, who competed in Sochi, Russia, in 2014 and in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in 2018 in the luge, suggested that the competitors coming back needed to give themselves time to settle back into their routines.

While he cautioned that he couldn’t speak for all athletes, he described how “you are going so hard for so long during any season. One capped by the Olympic Games brings even more adrenaline and mental stress. Once it was over for me, I just felt emotionally and mentally drained.”

Mortensen, who grew up in Huntington Station and now lives in Connecticut, spent March and April of each Olympic year focusing on his physical and mental recovery.

As with each Olympics, the 2022 Games in Beijing had its own storylines and challenges, as American athletes traveled across the world without support networks who couldn’t attend because of strict COVID rules.

“With COVID restrictions and protocols, lack of spectators, a diplomatic ban, differences in how long athletes could stay at the games after their [events] had finished, etc., I couldn’t help but feel like the athletes at this Olympics were not getting the ‘full experience,’” Mortensen explained in an email. “That being said, I’m sure it was still wonderful for them.”

Indeed, Stony Brook University graduate student India Pagan, who is a stand-out starting basketball player and is earning her master’s degree, attended her first games in Tokyo as a representative of the first Puerto Rican basketball team to compete in the Olympics last summer.

“It crossed my mind, what would these [games] be like if we didn’t have all these COVID restrictions, how much more fun it would have been,” she said.

Still, Pagan, who had routine COVID and temperature tests and had to show her badge regularly, called the experience a “blast.”

While Pagan said she, too, was “sad” when the Olympics were over, she said she was “thankful” she got to participate and appreciated the reception she received when she returned, which included a parade in her native New London, Connecticut.

“I’m an Olympian now,” she said. “It’s a different life. People see the tattoo on my leg, and they say, ‘Can I take a picture with you?’”

Russian skater

Mortensen and Pagan said they both were well aware of some of the storylines that dominated the Beijing games.

One of the biggest narratives involved 15-year-old Russian skating sensation Kamila Valieva. After the team event, in which the Russian Olympic Committee won a gold medal while the United States earned a silver, Valieva tested positive for a banned substance.

The International Olympic Committee allowed her to compete in the individual skating event, where she was first after the short program, but fell in the long program and finished in fourth, behind two of her teammates.

Luge competitor Matthew Mortensen, on right in photo, with teammate Jayson Terdiman in 2018. Left photo from USA Luge

Like many other athletes and commentators, Mortensen believed Valieva shouldn’t have been competing after her positive test.

“There has to be a hard line on doping, especially when it comes to the Olympic Games,” Mortensen wrote. “The adults around her let her down and the Court of Arbitration for Sport made the wrong decision.”

He said he couldn’t imagine competing knowing that her competitors felt like she was a cheater. He expected that the mental trauma she experienced would be “long lasting.”

Pagan said Team USA officials warn athletes to be careful about anything they take that might lead to a positive drug test.

“You never know what type of substances could be illegal,” Pagan said. “You have to be very careful.”

Love for the Games

Mortensen said he watched the Games every day, getting up early to support his former teammates live.

“I still love the Olympics and everything that the Games represent,” he wrote in an email. He finds them “fascinating” and enjoys cheering on Team USA.

In addition to lasting memories, Mortensen and Pagan both appreciate the camaraderie and friendships that came from participating in a marquee athletic event on the world stage.

“In our sport, we find ourselves competing against most of the same athletes for our entire career,” Mortensen wrote. “We travel together, hang out together, play sports together and just spend a lot of time around each other in general over the years,” which helps build enduring friendships.

Just hours after the competition, Pagan said she and other Olympians interacted in the game room.

“We do everything we can for our country” and then they connect with other people who are doing the same, she said.

Pagan said she has stayed in touch with several members of the South African track team and with a wrestler from Australia.

One of her new friends asked her if she thought she’d be able to see each other in person again.

“Maybe life will bring us back together,” Pagan said. “It’s cool that we’re still friends.”

Stony Brook University's played in the summer Olympics with Team Puerto Rico's women's basketball team. Photo from India Pagan

Stony Brook University’s India Pagan, competing in the Olympics for Puerto Rico, took several shots against China in the preliminary round of the basketball tournament, but none of them went in.

India Pagan at the summer Olympics opening ceremony. Photo from India Pagan

Against Belgium, the 6-foot-1-inch forward finally put the ball through the hoop, something she’d done so frequently at Stony Brook that she scored over 1,000 points as a Seawolf.

“I remember the first one I made” at the Olympics, said Pagan. “I didn’t have to stress anymore. I couldn’t stop smiling.”

Pagan, who was on Puerto Rico’s first women’s Olympic basketball team, scored two baskets and sank two free throws, scoring six points in that game.

Despite the challenges and restrictions created by the Delta variant of COVID-19 and the three losses the Puerto Rican team had in games against China, Belgium and Australia, Pagan had plenty of reasons to smile as she enjoyed everything from the opening ceremonies to taking selfies with some of the best athletes in the world to some limited sightseeing.

After a lengthy journey to the other side of the world, Pagan cheered her way through an opening ceremony full of familiar pageantry, but devoid of its customary shouting spectators.

“It was surreal to me,” Pagan said. “I watched this on TV a couple of years ago. Walking with the flag, with the whole delegation of Puerto Rico, seeing the stage, the torch, the dances, the acts of music, everything, it was just so beautiful.”

Pagan said she cried three or four times during the ceremonies.

Behind the scenes, Pagan said the time spent waiting for the ceremonies to begin and the hours on their feet amid the excitement took their toll.

“By the end of the night, all of our backs hurt, our feet hurt,” she laughed. “Thankfully, we didn’t have practice the next day, so we had a little time to recover.”

Around the games, Pagan soaked in the atmosphere and reveled in the moment on one of the world’s largest, albeit emptiest, athletic stages.

One of the big stories to come out of the Olympics involved American gymnast Simone Biles, who pulled out of most of the competition amid concerns about her mental health and her ability to get her bearings while flying and twisting through the air.

“We understood the mental health aspects” of Biles’s decision, Pagan said. “She’s got to do what’s best for her. We did feel for her.”

Pagan said the Puerto Rican basketball team met with their coach, who told them they could speak with a doctor or a psychologist if they needed support.

Pagan missed her family and friends but didn’t need those mental health services during her time in Tokyo.

Pagan was thrilled to run into several superstars in their sports, taking selfies with National Basketball Association star Jayson Tatum from the Boston Celtics, and with Spanish basketball sensations Marc Gasol, who currently plays for the Los Angeles Lakers and his brother Pau, who retired from the NBA in 2019 after an 18-year career. She also ran into Serbian tennis great Novak Djokovic.

“Seeing those people was cool for me,” Pagan said.

Pagan takes a photo with Spanish basketball sensation Pau Gasol. Photo from India Pagan

Everyone had to wear face shields in the dining hall which made conversations, even among teammates, challenging.

“It was tough to interact” while she was eating, Pagan said.

She did, however, have the opportunity to speak and play games with other masked athletes in a recreational area. Pagan and teammates Jada Stinson and Jacqueline Benitez visited with athletes from the South African soccer and track teams, and several teams from Ireland, Italy and Iran while playing table tennis, pool and darts.

During her stay in Tokyo, Pagan recalled the lives of two people she and her family recently lost. She wrote the names of Tatiana Mayas, one of her closest childhood friends, and Gloria Sotomayor, a friend of her mother’s, on a white ribbon and pinned them on a memorial tree.

While the athletes couldn’t explore Tokyo on their own or travel much outside the Olympic village, they took a bus tour to Mt. Fuji, which, at 12,380 feet, is the tallest mountain in Japan.

“If we got off the bus and the [International Olympic Committee] found out, they would have kicked us out of the Olympics,” Pagan said.

Pagan remained appreciative of an opportunity she didn’t take for granted, especially since she has no guarantee that she or the Puerto Rican team will return for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

“I was ready for anything and I was grateful for anything,” Pagan said.

In addition to returning with a collection of memories, photos and selfies, Pagan brought back numerous souvenirs for herself and her family.

She purchased a letterman jacket that she said she “had to have,” because it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

She also purchased shoes, shirts, key chains, umbrellas, pins and notebooks.

“It was like Christmas,” she laughed. The gifts were worth the money, as her family’s faces “lit up” when she produced their presents.

During her Olympics, she appreciated the outpouring of support for her and for the team.

“My phone has never blown up as much as it did when I was at the Olympics,” said Pagan, who is returning to Stony Brook to earn her master’s this fall and to use a fifth year of eligibility the National Collegiate Athletic Association granted to athletes amid the pandemic.

She left North America with 6,000 Instagram followers and returned with 11,000.

One of the first things she did when she returned, after sharing presents, crying and catching up with family, was to get behind the wheel.

“I couldn’t wait to drive my car and be free and go wherever I wanted to, instead of being restrained and told to stay in one place or being locked up in a room,” Pagan said.

She hopes the team will return to the next Olympics in Paris in 2024.

“Hopefully, we’ll be back,” she said. “This experience will definitely help us grow as a program. We’re on our way up.”

As for what’s next, she plans to rest and recover from the exhausting and exhilarating trip and to add the Olympic rings tattoo to her leg.

Pagan appreciates the opportunity to play a game she loves at the Olympic level.

“It was a blessing and an honor,” Pagan said.

Coach Ken Eriksen during practice with Team USA Softball. Photo by Jade Hewitt from USA Softball

Some days, you win a close race against the best in the world by a fingernail, the way Michael Phelps did in 2008 in the 100-meter butterfly.

Coach Ken Eriksen with members of Team USA softball team. Photo by Jade Hewitt from USA Softball

Other days, your team, after thousands of hours of practice, working hard, watching video and dancing on a bus — more on this later — you lose by that same margin.

That’s how Team USA Softball’s coach Ken Eriksen, who contributed his last volunteer hour to traveling around the world on behalf of the country, felt after losing 2-0 to Japan in the gold medal game at the Tokyo Olympics.

“The difference between gold or silver is almost microscopic,” Eriksen said. “Japan had a good day.”

A turning point in the gold medal game came in the bottom of the sixth inning when American third-basemen Amanda Chidester lined a ball that hit off her counterpart at third base and into the shortstop’s mitt, who threw to second base to get a double play, ending a potential American rally from a 2-0 deficit.

“When that play occurred, that’s the first time in the game that I said, ‘This may not be our day,’” Eriksen, a 1979 graduate of Ward Melville High School said.

The head coach was pleased with the preparation and effort from a team of 15 players, including pitching legends Cat Osterman and Monica Abbott, who returned for one more chance at an Olympic medal.

“I thought we played a very good tournament,” Eriksen said from Tampa, Florida, where he has been the University of South Florida head softball coach for the last 24 years.

Outside the lines, the Olympics presented numerous challenges. Even on their way to the Olympics, it was clear this would be a unique experience, as the only people on the flight to Japan were either athletes or the military.

Once in the country, they had numerous restrictions as a result of the Delta variant.

“The Japanese wouldn’t let you do much,” Eriksen said.

The team and coaches went to the ballpark and spent much of their time at the hotel. They couldn’t go outside and socialize with other athletes. Inside the village, they had to put on their masks everywhere.

Each morning, the players and coaches had a COVID saliva test, which built anxiety as the team waited for results in the afternoon.

“There was no release of stress to go out and just relax,” Eriksen said. “Elite athletes need that pressure release and coaches need it.”

Indeed, in addition to restrictions placed on the team, the athletes regularly heard from Japanese citizens who were upset that the Olympics even took place.

“Everywhere we went, we heard protests,” Eriksen said. “It’s unnerving. You’re there in allegedly the greatest athletic event in the world and in the host country, they don’t want you. When you’re hearing voices coming over megaphones behind a police line, it’s not normal.”

To counterbalance the stress and help the team, Eriksen said he slackened the reins, giving his players the green light to get “goofy.”

“People think of athletes as having ice in their veins. They are human beings.”

— Ken Eriksen

Led by infielder Valerie Arioto, 32, the team danced on the bus. Arioto did the “greatest rendition of Cher” and Kelly Clarkson, Eriksen said. The head coach also allowed the team to listen to music while practicing, giving them a chance to blow off steam while preparing for upcoming games.

Mental health

Eriksen said the softball team had already focused on the mental health aspects of the game, which gymnast Simone Biles brought to the world’s attention when she withdrew from the team and several individual events.

“We’ve been ahead of the curve on this for three or four years,” Eriksen said.

While people talk about softball and baseball as games of failure because a batter is considered successful if he or she gets on base once in three tries, Eriksen said the softball team describes the experience as a “game of opportunity,” by defining successes in ways other than batting averages.

Eriksen is grateful to Biles and Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka, who withdrew from Wimbledon rather than face questions from the media, for raising the issue of mental health for athletes.

“People think of athletes as having ice in their veins,” he said. “They are human beings. The pressure on anybody that wears a U.S. uniform … is almost unfair.”

The rest of the world has improved in numerous sports, including softball, in part because American coaches have helped train them, Eriksen added. Through the Olympics, American players compete against their college roommates or coaches who worked with them earlier in their careers.

After the gold medal game ended in heartbreak for players who put everything they had into the game, Eriksen said he shared a few words with the team.

“This game will not be the toughest they’ll ever play,” he recalled. “The toughest game will start tomorrow: the rest of their life.”

He encouraged players to call him for any future support.

Having been an assistant coach with the gold-medal winning team in Athens in 2004, Eriksen recognized that the game fades quickly.

“Within five minutes, you have the realization that it’s over and the climb is the most exhilarating part,” he said.

Eriksen was pleased to have the support and leadership of 38-year-old Osterman and 36-year-old Abbott, who served as inspirations to their teammates. He described the two pitchers as the Nolan Ryans of their era.

“What God gave these people is absolutely rare,” Eriksen said, as they have maintained their athleticism well into their 30s.

Accumulated wisdom

After all his years on the diamond, first as a baseball player at Ward Melville and in college at USF, and then as a coach, Eriksen shared a few thoughts.

When he was hired, his athletic director at USF told him never to get in a conversation with parents because he’ll always lose. Twice in his career, he removed players from the team because their parents questioned him about playing time.

As for being around men’s and women’s teams, he suggested a difference among athletes of each gender.

“Women have to feel good to play good, men have to play good to feel good,” he said.

In his coaching career, he recalled one moment that mirrored a scene from the Kurt Russell movie “Miracle,” in which the actor played Coach Herb Brooks from the 1980 ice hockey team that defeated the Russians amid the Cold War in Lake Placid.

Before tryouts ended, Russell gave a stunned Olympic hockey league director his list of players.

In 2019, Eriksen said he, too, handed the Olympic softball league director a list of the 15 players who would be on the team before tryouts ended.

Eriksen said he is comforted by his decision to retire from coaching Team USA.

“If I never get on an airplane again, I’ll be okay,” he said. “Sometimes, it’s good to wake up in your own bed, drink coffee on the back porch and listen to the birds.

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Kimberly Lindeman and John Daly

John Daly doesn’t sit still for long.

John Daly, competing in a different race, finished 16th in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. File photo

Known for flying down winding tracks around the world at over 80 miles per hour with his head inches above the ice, Daly continued to move his life forward, even during the pandemic.

The 35-year-old Daly, who has competed in three Olympics and has retired twice, launched his second comeback, hoping to make the United States team that will travel to Beijing for next year’s winter games.

At the same time, Daly took a big step in his own life, getting engaged to Kimberly Lindeman, who is also a graduate of Smithtown High School.

Daly felt the same passion to race down mountains at breakneck speed, banking impossible turns as hoarse spectators urged him on and family and friends shook cowbells at the top of frozen mountains as he did when he first started racing almost two decades ago.

“If you still have the chance to compete, why not?” Daly said. “The drive is there. The passion is there. My life is great, but there’s nothing like another Olympic games.”

Indeed, Daly had a promising start to his second return to skeleton several months ago, when he placed first in Lake Placid at the USA skeleton selection races in November, earning a spot on yet another national team.

Daly “came in with no expectations of how he was going to do and just to see if he still had it,” USA Skeleton Head Coach Tuffy Latour said from Austria, where the team was preparing to compete in a World Cup event. “Apparently, he does, as he finished first in our team trials and put on a great performance. His sliding is as good, if not better, than I’ve ever seen him.”

Latour, who has led the American skeleton effort since the 2010 season, said he is pleased to have Daly compete for a spot on the Olympic Team.

“I’m sure [Daly] is going to build on all the skills and knowledge he’s built over the years,” Latour said. “He’ll put that to good use.”

Daly plans to compete in several races this year and next fall, where he hopes to score enough points to earn a chance for the nomination for selection as USA1 or USA2 next January 16th.

A talented sprinter who tapped into the kind of sprinter’s speed at the top of the race that is critical to success in the sport, Daly placed 17th in his first Olympics in 2010.

It was the 2014 competition that continues to play out in his mind and, in some ways, to drive him back to the mountains of the world, despite his antipathy for the cold, an irony not lost on him.

“I wish I was better at something else,” Daly said. “My hate for the cold is still there and strong. It hasn’t gotten any better. I just learned how to deal with it.”

“My hate for the cold is still there and strong. It hasn’t gotten any better. I just learned how to deal with it.”

— John Daly

On Feb. 15, 2014, a day Daly describes as the “worst of his life,” he was in prime position to earn that elusive Olympic medal, as he approached the top of the fourth and final heat in Sochi, Russia.

As Daly took those first explosive steps onto the ice, his sled popped out of the grooves, leaving him with a botched start that robbed him of his dream.

“I was literally 55 seconds away from getting that moment and it never happened,” Daly said. “It’s one of those things that doesn’t ever go away.”

Latour recalls that day as well, agonizing over how one of his American competitors missed out on a medal even as Daly’s long-time friend and now member of the coaching staff, Matt Antoine, earned a bronze that day.

“It was heartbreaking for me,” Latour said. “I’m certain it inspired him to come back for 2018 and now 2022. Everybody is chasing a medal. I don’t blame him one bit for coming back out and giving it another shot.”

As a 35-year-old, Daly recognizes that he has to plan his training and performing regimen appropriately.

“Training is still intense, but it’s less often,” Daly said. “I can’t go 15 rounds anymore. I don’t need to be great for the whole season: I just have to be great at the end of the season” when he feels he needs to be at the top of his game to ensure the best racing results.

This year, as Daly prepares for a possible spot on his fourth Olympic team, he and his teammates have a new way to prepare for competitions. The skeleton and bobsled team has a new ice push facility at Mt. Van Hoevenberg in Lake Placid, which is the first indoor ice push facility in the United States.

The center simulates the first 65 meters of a skeleton run, with a flat 25 meters and then a downhill section, which comes back up again. The center has three starting blocks and allows competitors to push on ice through the summer months, when they might otherwise train on dry land and lift weights.

Latour said the track in Beijing is “probably easy to get down, but is hard to produce a fast time.”

When Daly, who works as an account executive at medical device maker BardyDX, was trying to decide whether to return to the sport, he consulted with Lindeman.

“It was her idea for me to go back as well,” Daly said.

Lindeman suggested to Daly that his nephews and niece would see their uncle competing for a spot on the Olympic team, which would be “so special” for them.

John Daly and Kimberly Lindeman

Love During the Pandemic

Daly and Lindeman knew of each other in high school. Lindeman and Daly’s sister Kristen, who are two years younger than John, were friends in high school.

The couple connected in December of 2019, when Lindeman moved not far from Daly in Brooklyn. On their first date, which was Dec. 12, Lindeman wasn’t even aware that it was a date. She thought they might be hanging out as friends.

Originally, the pair planned to go out for drinks, but that turned into dinner and drinks. The date lasted over seven hours and would have likely continued except that the bartender announced last call.

“That’s a testament to how good of a time we were having,” Lindeman said.

Daly said he was “hooked” after that first evening.

The next two dates were similar, with the pair staying out late into the night.

Just under three months from the start of their relationship, Lindeman and her father Bill, who share a birthday in the early part of March, had a large family birthday gathering.

Daly had met one of Lindeman’s two sisters and Lindeman figured she might as well “rip the band aid” and allow him to meet everyone else at the same time.

The evening went well for her suitor, as “everyone loved him. They thought he was wonderful.”

Indeed, just a few weeks later, the pandemic hit and Daly and Lindeman decided to quarantine together.

Her mom Valerie, who also grew up in Smithtown, and her father, who owned an insurance agency in Smithtown for 25 years, appreciated that their oldest of three daughters had company during this period of isolation, especially since then knew of Daly and his family.

Quarantining with Daly “accelerated our relationship so much,” Lindeman said. During the pandemic, the concentrated time together would either cause the relationship to meet its demise or to solidify their bond, Lindeman said.

Lindeman appreciated Daly’s ability to maintain a positive mindset and stay optimistic despite the challenging environment around them.

“We balance each other well,” Lindeman said. Daly “keeps my spirits up.”

“We were on the same page with all the important topics. I knew very early on that I had something extremely special.”

— Kimberly Lindeman

During their time in isolation, they did considerable cooking together. They also took drives and went hiking, as long as the weather wasn’t too cold. Lindeman also doesn’t appreciate the cold.

They also enjoyed Netflix marathons, watching “Tiger King,” “Love is Blind,” and “The Office,” which they rewatched several times.

During all the challenges of the pandemic, Lindeman and Daly said they appreciated the connection they had forged and the opportunity to spend time together.

“We tried to enjoy the time we had together,” Lindeman said. “A lot of new relationships didn’t have that.”

On Saturday, Jan. 15, just over 15 months since they started dating, Daly had put on a suit and said they were planning to go to one of her favorite restaurants.

Lindeman was worried he’d be cold sitting outside in his suit. Once she was ready to go, he brought her a video that he said she had to watch alone. The video, which she viewed alone in the bedroom behind a closed door, included scenes from their time together, with some videos she didn’t know he had recorded, including the two of them dancing in the kitchen.

After she finished the video, she opened the door and Daly had lit candles down the entire hallway. Daly said he knew Lindeman was unaware of his plans because she didn’t get her nails done.

After he proposed, Daly told Lindeman they weren’t eating out because they were going to celebrate, in a socially distanced way, with both of their parents and siblings. He assured her that he had rebooked a dinner reservation for the next Tuesday.

Lindeman said she wasn’t completely surprised, despite her lack of a manicure, because she and Daly joke that every month during a pandemic is like three-and-a-half months in a normal year.

“We both had a lot of life experience and we had a lot of those conversations about what we wanted out of life and was important upfront,” she said. “We were on the same page with all the important topics. I knew very early on that I had something extremely special. I knew whatever happened, good or bad, that I had him and we’d figure it out together and we were a team.”

As he prepares for the possibility of rejoining the Olympic team, Daly hopes the fourth time brings a long-awaited and hard-earned redemption on the ice from 2014, when he was less than a minute from his athletic dream.

Displaying the optimism and the perspective that appealed to his fiancée, , Daly recognizes that he’s been incredibly fortunate if his worst day includes missing out on Olympic hardware.

“If the worst thing that’s happened to me is that I went to my second Olympics and screwed up,” said Daly, “I’ve had a darned good life.”

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They grew up an ocean, and a few months, apart. They spoke different languages, lived in families of different sizes, and competed at high levels in sports from different seasons.

And yet Huntington Station’s Sgt. Matt Mortensen, a Winter Olympic soldier-athlete with Team USA who competes in the luge, and Alex Duma, a sports chiropractor in New York, have been dating for close to two years.

The world of sports provides common ground for these two 32-year-olds. Duma grew up to become a Romanian women’s national swimming champion and an All-American swimmer.

Mortensen, despite living his early years on the relatively flat terrain of Long Island, dedicated his considerable athletic energy to a sport his father Jerry introduced him to when the company where he worked, Verizon, was sponsoring a luge event.

Mortensen and Duma met when she was on volunteering at Lake Placid Olympic Training Center.

He tried to ask her out for a drink and she turned him down because she didn’t want to consider dating someone she might treat as a patient.

Several months later, however, she relented when she knew he wouldn’t consult her professionally.

Once they started dating in earnest, her experience as an athlete helped prepare her for the travels, the dedication to training — and the competition.

“I understand him really well,” she said. “I’ve been an athlete myself and I do travel with athletes. I understand his lifestyle.”

That lifestyle brings challenges that would be difficult for people who weren’t born some 5,000 miles apart. Indeed, as a member of the Army World Class Athlete Program, Mortensen ventures around the globe routinely, competing in World Cup competitions.

Since he was 12, Mortensen learned most of his middle school and high school lessons from work sent from St. Dominic’s in Oyster Bay. He often missed celebrating his December birthday with his family because it fell during the winter luge season.

The time on the road, however, helped him grow up more rapidly and, as it turned out, gave him the opportunity to learn other cultures earlier than many of his American contemporaries.

The months he spent in Europe “helped bridge the cultural gap,” Duma said. It helped him “understand my European culture.”

At the same time, Duma came to the United States when she was 19, so she feels that “a lot of what I am is due to the American culture.”

Duma admires Mortensen’s relentless efforts to improve and compete. She has watched how he continues to work out after the season ends, even when the workouts are not required.

“He’ll go above and beyond the extra step,” she said.

As for their families, Duma grew up as an only child. On another continent, Mortensen grew up with four brothers and two sisters, in a family of nine.

“They are an amazing big family,” Duma said. “I feel so blessed to have been invited to family events,” which include Christmas and Easter.

Duma appreciates the noise, the dogs, little kids and the constant commotion, which is a marked contrast from her life in a small family, where it was “too quiet.”

Borrowing an oft-quoted line from the movie “Jerry Maguire,” Mortensen said Duma “really completes me.”

Mortensen suggested that Duma stay behind and continue to work while he was in PyeongChang. In South Korea, he finished fourth in the luge team relay, a tenth of a second behind the Austrian team for bronze. He wanted her to save up her vacation time so the athletic couple could travel on a planned trip to Hawaii. During the games, the two of them speak by FaceTime and Whatsapp.

Ultimately, what makes the relationship work, Duma said, is that her Olympic boyfriend is “such a good communicator. He’s amazing at that.”

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Huntington Station luge competitor Matt Mortinson, on top, competes with teammate Jayson Terdiman in the Winterberg, Germany November 2017. Photo from USA Luge

By Daniel Dunaief

Sixth place after the first run wasn’t going to cut it. Huntington Station’s Matthew Mortensen and his partner Jayson Terdiman had flown all the way to Pyeongchang, South Korea to bring home Olympic hardware.

Mortensen, who is in the World Class Athlete Program for the United States military, has spent years preparing for this opportunity.

The tandem was ranked fifth after the World Cup season, which brings the top athletes in the sport together for competitions around the world. They knew they had the talent to compete on the world’s biggest stage, and they had an enormous time gap, at least in the high-speed world of luge, to make up to put themselves in position for a medal.

Mortensen asked Terdiman, “Hey, do you want to go for it?” Without hesitation, his teammate agreed.

Before their next run, Mortensen sacrificed control for speed, reducing the margin for error on the final race for a medal.

“I’d rather be on my face than not try to get a medal at the Olympics,” Mortensen said.

“I’d rather be on my face than not try to get a medal at the Olympics.”

— Matt Mortensen

The second ride was better than the first, until they reached turn 13. Tapping the wall was enough to set them back. They finished that race in 13th and ended the doubles competition in 10th.

Changing the sled was “risky, but they were there to compete for a medal and not just compete,” Bill Tavares, the head coach of USA Luge, said in an email.

The Olympics were not over for the luge team, however, as they had one more competition a few days later, when they joined Chris Mazdzer, who had won a silver medal in the singles competition and Summer Britcher, a singles rider for the women, in the relay.

Team USA had every reason to be optimistic, as it had finished second in a similar relay in a World Cup competition in Germany last year.

When all the teams finished, the Americans came in fourth, a mere one tenth of a second behind the Austria team, which claimed the bronze.

“Fourth place was frustrating,” Mortensen said. The team had “an opportunity to get a medal, and didn’t.”

Tavares explained the fourth-place finish was “hard for all us to take.” The team knew it not only had a chance to win a medal, but win a gold one.

Fourth place became an unfortunate pattern for the Americans in South Korea, as Team USA didn’t make it to the medal stands often as the collection of determined athletes had expected in the first week of competition.

Apart from his events, however, Mortensen has ridden some of the same emotions as his countrymen back home.

He watched with concern as teammate Emily Sweeney crashed.

Huntington Station luge competitor Matt Mortinson, on right, with teammate Jayson Terdiman. Photo from USA Luge

“For us, it was a major relief when we saw her stand up and move around,” Mortensen said.

Mortensen was also inspired by snowboarder Shaun White, who returned from an Olympic misfire at Sochi to come through with a gold medal on his final run in the half pipe competition. White was moved to tears after collecting his third gold medal.

“That type of emotion and energy embodies the Olympic spirit,” Mortensen said.

The Huntington Station athlete was also impressed by the gold medal performances of 17-year old Chloe Kim, who won her half pipe competition, and Jamie Anderson, who claimed gold in women’s slopestyle snowboarding.

This is 32-year old Mortensen’s second Olympic appearence. He came in 14th at Sochi with a different partner, Preston Griffall.

Mortensen said the overall experience is the same, with considerable positive energy at both locations.

Mortensen’s parents Jerry and Mary flew across the world to support their son and the team.

Mortensen’s coach was pleased with his effort.

“He came to compete and left nothing out there,” Tavares said.

Mortensen also has dedicated fans back home.

“We are so very proud of [Mortensen] for his incredible passion, talent and perseverance competing for many years on the world’s stage, including the Olympic games,” said Eileen Knauer, a senior vice president and chief operating officer at Huntington YMCA. Knauer has worked with Mortensen’s mother Mary at the YMCA for more than a quarter of a century.

Mortensen has six brothers and sisters.

“We are so very proud of [Mortensen] for his incredible passion, talent and perseverance competing for many years on the world’s stage, including the Olympic games.”

— Eileen Knauer

“The Mortensen family is the epitome of what the YMCA represents; youth development, healthy living and social responsibility,” Knauer said.

In the longer term, Mortensen isn’t sure what will come next in his life. His time in the world class athlete’s program ends in June and he has to decide whether to continue.

In the meantime, he and his girlfriend of the last two years, Alex Duma, who is a chiropractor in New York City, plan to vacation to Hawaii in March.

Duma, who is a former Romanian National Champion and All-American swimmer, relates to the life of a driven athlete.

“I understand him really well,” Duma said. “I understand his lifestyle, which is why this works, because I’m 100 percent on board.”

Duma said she also knows the frustration her boyfriend felt after all the years of training to compete in the Olympics.

She tries to be “as encouraging and supportive” as she can, she said. She believes time can help provide some perspective.

While the 2018 results didn’t meet Mortensen’s expectations, “it doesn’t change who he is or his character,” Duma added.

As a member of the 1156 Engineer Company in Kingston, New York, Mortensen is a “folk hero” to the members of his unit, said Lieutenant William Hayes, who is his commanding officer. “He’s one of our own,” he said. “It’s always exciting to hear his stories.”

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Smithtown native John Daly, on left, with fellow Team USA members at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Olympics in Pyeonchang. Photo by Kendall Wesenberg

By Daniel Dunaief

The third time proved that Smithtown’s John Daly could pick himself up, dust off and start all over again.

An Olympic skeleton racer, Daly had walked away from the sport he loved after a crushing ending to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. Daly had been within striking distance of a coveted medal before the fourth and final race. That’s when his sled popped out of the groove at the starting line, sending him back from fourth place to 15th.

Distraught over the mistake, Daly retired from the sport, got a job and moved on with his life.

John Daly, competing in a different race, finished 16th and the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. File photo

Or so he thought. The red-haired kid, as some of his friends described him years ago, returned to skeleton two years ago, despite a job with medical technology company Smith & Nephew that required him to drive nine hours from Virginia to Lake Placid to train.

Over the last two years, he has fought to make it onto his third Olympic team, a feat he accomplished in January.

Daly joined his longtime friend and teammate Matt Antoine, representing the United States at Pyeongchang.

They went head to head against a talented South Korean slider named Yung Sung-bin, who was competing on his home track. The local South Korean hero won gold in convincing fashion, while Antoine and Daly finished 11th and 16th, respectively.

Despite the finish Daly was pleased that the final chapter in his Olympic experience didn’t end at Sochi.

“I got to do four runs, lift my head up at the end, hold it high, walk off the line and wave to my family,” he said, according to the Associated Press. “That’s something I didn’t get four years ago.”

“I got to do four runs, lift my head up at the end, hold it high, walk off the line and wave to my family.”

— John Daly

Indeed, his parents Bennarda and James Daly, who trekked to Vancouver to cheer him on in 2010 and journeyed to Sochi in 2014, also supported their son in person in Pyeongchang.

“It was fun to see him happy,” his mother said. “He had a good time.”

Realistically, she said her son recognized that the odds were stacked against him in South Korea, in part because he hadn’t spent the previous four years preparing for this event, the way his competitors had.

“He was content with the way he slid,” she said. He had a couple of hits to the wall, which rob sliders, as skeleton racers are called, of critical speed. Still, he “ended on a good note and that made us all feel good.”

Daly said her son believed he had run away and hid after the Sochi games, as though he had done something wrong. He realized that wasn’t the right way to handle the mistake at the top of the Russian track.

“He came back to get closure for that race,” she said.

James Daly felt this was the best of the three Olympic games, because his son was glowing.

“He came and did what he wanted to do, and he didn’t get hurt,” Daly said of his son. “It’s all about the experience.”

“It was fun to see him happy. He had a good time.”

— Bennarda Daly

Bennarda Daly not only enjoyed watching her son rewrite his Olympic script, but she also had the chance to spend quality time with him and with her husband.

They attended speed skating events, where the Daly team cheered for fellow Americans.

The family walked around the Olympic village with outfits that have the letters USA on them, and although concerned that people might be hostile, especially in light of the ongoing tension in Asia, the atmosphere was high-spirited.

“Everyone was polite and kind” Bennarda Daly said. The hosts “went out of their way to make everyone feel comfortable.”

She was also especially pleased that her son was able to enjoy the final chapter of a long Olympic ride.

“Just to see John enjoy the village as a spectator, to go and see other people he’d met along the way and became friends with and to go to things with him was really good,” she said.

As for Daly’s skeleton future, Bennarda Daly believes her 32-year old son is truly done.

“He feels he’s gotten what he needed,” she said. “He seemed fulfilled.”

Looking back on the Olympic and athletic experiences, James Daly appreciated the journey his son took, and the places the family visited as a result.

John Daly, competing in a previous race, returned to the track after retiring from skeleton racing following the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. File photo

“If it wasn’t for John, we wouldn’t have done the traveling we did,” the elder Daly said.

Daly witnessed firsthand how hard his son had to work to attend competitions.

A racing official for the sport of skeleton, James Daly enjoyed the contact he had with competitors and their families.

“You meet people from all over the country and the world,” he said. “It’s been a great experience. Each country sends their best.”

The elder Daly suggested that families angling to make future games need to recognize the roller coaster ride along the way.

“It’s not all glory,” he said. “You have to prepare yourself for the best and the worst. You could think of every kind of scenario that could happen, and then something else would happen.”

While the family traveled far and wide to frigid mountains, Daly said the bone-chilling cold disappeared each time his son hit the track.

“When he gets up there, there’s no more cold,” he said. “It’s just fun. That’s what you came for. You realize, if he could do that and get through that, he can get through anything.”

Hans Wiederkehr, a former athlete, NFL player and football coach at Babylon and Shoreham-Wading River, is a member of Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame's 2018 induction class. Photo from SSHOF

Seeing coaching as an action, not a title, has yielded great success, and now a prestigious honor for a few local leaders.

Former Babylon head football coach and Shoreham-Wading River assistant Hans Wiederkehr, and Middle Country track and field coaches Bob Burkley and Harry Schneider were named members of the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame’s 2018 induction class, announced by the organization Feb. 13. The three will join eight other selectees at the induction ceremony May 10 at 7:30 p.m. at Watermill Caterers in Smithtown.

“I’d like to thank all the kids that played for me — they’re the main reason I’m here,” Wiederkehr said. “I love the kids. I’d do anything for them.”

Former Middle Country head track and field coach Bob Burkley, currently an assistant at Northport, is one of 11 to be inducted into the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame this year. Photo from SSHOF

After a successful career as a lineman at Syracuse University, Wiederkehr spent a season with the Pittsburgh Steelers as an offensive lineman in 1985-86. From 1986 until 2002 he served as a physical education teacher and director at Babylon, and coached varsity football from 1987 to 2002. The Panthers won 10 league crowns, six Suffolk County titles and two Long Island championships during his tenure. From 2014 to 2016 he was an assistant coach at Shoreham-Wading River. The Wildcats won three Long Island championships and two Rutgers Trophies, given annually to Suffolk’s top football team.

“I had tremendous parents, tremendous support, and then I took the time to coach my own son at Shoreham and dealt with the same type of people,” Wiederkehr said. “I’ve been very lucky to have that support, and I think that’s the foundation of amateur athletics.”

The former Division I athlete and NFL player is also one of the longest tenured athletic administrators of any coaches association in Long Island history. He has served as president of the Suffolk County Football Coaches Association since 1999, known for its famed awards dinner that draws more than 900 guests annually. Widerkehr is also an inductee of the East Lyme High School Hall of Fame (2004) and the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame (2009).

Burkley was the varsity track and field coach at Newfield High School from 1964 to 1970, and at Centereach from 1971 to 1998. He won 28 league championships and 10 county championships. Following his time in Middle Country, he was an assistant at Bayport-Blue, from 1999 to 2004, at Center Moriches from 2005 to 2009, and has been at Northport since 2010. Burkley has coached 60 student-athletes who went on to have their own track and field coaching careers. He coached five national champions, two national record holders and five New York state record holders. Burkley’s teams went 26 years and 158 matches without losing a dual meet. He was also a lifeguard captain at Jones Beach for 42 years and was named New York State Lifeguard of the Year in 2010.

“I’ve been very lucky to have [the parents’] support, and I think that’s the foundation of amateur athletics.”

— Hans Wiederkehr

“I’d like to thank my wife for letting me spend all this time the last 55 years coaching student-athletes,” Burkley said, smiling. “I still love it, and I love it because of the athletes — their dedication, responsiveness. It’s so rewarding to work with kids that love what they’re doing and stick with it.”

Much like Burkley, Schneider taught physical education in the Middle Country school district for 32 years, coaching boys cross country, boys winter track and boys spring track and field during each of those seasons and beyond. Since retiring from teaching and moving to Sedona, Arizona in 2000, he has continued to coach boys and girls cross country and track and field.

Schneider’s boys cross country teams at Middle Country won 10 division titles, 18 league championships and 11 county titles. His dual meet record was 165-20. In 1995, his team was ranked No. 8 in the nation. Boys winter track teams at Middle Country won seven division titles, 21 league championship and 11 county titles under Schneider’s guidance, which also produced a 103-3 overall record. Burkley coached 85 individual champs, two national champs and 11 state champs. In the spring, he won eight division titles, 28 league championships and 10 county titles. His record was 189-4-1. He coached 78 county champs, four national champs and 15 state champs among his spring track campaigns. He won more than 80 coach of the year awards and more than 65 of his student-athletes went on to coach throughout the United States.

Ed Morris, former executive director of the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame, is being inducted into it this year. Photo from SSHOF

Among other coaches, referees and players to be inducted is Miller Place native Matt Ryan, noted as one of the greatest handball players in American history. The 1996 U.S. Olympic captain was a three-time U.S. Handball Player of the Year, and his 225 official international matches are an American record. Ryan also played professional handball overseas and starred in multiple world championship tournaments. His athletic prowess, however, began on the basketball court. As a senior in 1984, Ryan was named New York Basketball Player of the Year. As a junior, he was second team All-Long Island and won a gold medal at the Empire State Games with the Long Island squad. In 2013, he was inducted to the Miller Place Athletic Hall of Fame. In 2004, he was honored with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America National Service to Youth Award.

Former executive director of the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame, Ed Morris, is also in this year’s class. He served on the executive board since 1992 prior to taking over the organization in 2000. A Sachem alum, he is also the first recipient of his namesake award, the Edward J. Morris Lifetime Achievement Award. He has also served on the board of directors of Suffolk County PAL.

Half Hollow Hills graduate Stephen Bowen, who spent 10 seasons in the NFL, and Shannon Smith, a three-time first-team lacrosse All-American who is among the most decorated players in the sport, and is also the head women’s lacrosse coach at Hofstra University, also highlight this year’s class.

“When I found out that I was one of the new members I almost felt guilty, because there are so many wonderful men and women coaches in Suffolk County,” Wiederkehr said. “There so many that work hard, and sometimes don’t achieve some of the success some other coaches have, but that doesn’t bother them, they just keep working and working and working.  I’m very honored and humbled to be a part of this induction class.”

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John Daly racing down the slope. Photo from Jonn Daly

Four years ago, Smithtown resident James Daly took his son John aside. The younger Daly had been in position to realize a long-held dream, only to see that dream slip away, as if it, and his sled, had slipped into a nightmare on Russian ice.

Competing in his second Olympics in the fast-paced sport of skeleton racing, John Daly was in fourth place in the Sochi Winter Olympics going into the final run of a four-heat race when his sled popped out of the grooves at the top of the mountain. That slip cost him time he could not afford to lose, sending him down to 15th place, and after the race, into retirement.

John Daly is a professional skeleton racer. Photo from Jonn Daly

Daly’s father grabbed him and said, “What happens to you today will make you the man that you’ll be tomorrow,” the son recalled.

At the moment, Daly barely registered the words, as the agony of defeat was so keen that he walked away from a sport that had helped define his life over the last 13 years.

His retirement, however, only lasted two. Daly wanted to rewrite his Olympic script.

The Smithtown native recently learned that he would represent the United States for a third time at the Winter Olympics, completing a comeback that required him to make marathon nine-hour drives from Virginia, where he’d gotten a job as a sales representative at medical technology company Smith & Nephew, to Lake Placid, where he returned to familiar stomping grounds.

A race official for bobsled and skeleton, the elder Daly continued to trek to the top of snowy and wind-whipped mountains, recognizing in the back of his mind that the middle of his three children might one day return to a sport where competitors sprint with a hand on their sled for five seconds and then dive headfirst onto a brakeless vehicle that can reach speeds in excess of 80 miles per hour.

When he learned his son made the Olympic team that will compete in Pyeongchang, South Korea next month, Daly couldn’t contain his enthusiasm.

“I’ve been telling everybody,” the retired EMS worker for the FDNY said with a laugh, even including random people he meets at the gym.

“When people watch the Olympic games on TV, they see a person from a town they never heard of,” James Daly said. “Now, all of a sudden, they see Smithtown. It’s great.”

The racing Daly, who is now 32, had a long road back to reclaim a spot on the American team. For starters, he had to go back to North America Cup races, the junior circuit of racing.

“Daly never really lost it. It was quite amazing to see.”

— Tuffy Latour

Daly “never really lost it,” said Tuffy Latour, the head coach of the USA skeleton team. “It was quite amazing to see. We were quite pleased.”

In January of last year, Daly earned a gold medal at Salt Lake City and followed that up with a gold and silver at Lake Placid.

Not only was his proud father there to celebrate John’s return, James also put the hardware around his neck.

“He’s been there from the time I went down the mountain the first time,” John said. “He’s always been there and for him to be there again, to put the medal on me for my first race back, it felt right.”

The pair joked while celebrating the first of several America’s Cup medals that the success felt familiar, like Daly was never gone.

At this point, Daly said he feels that the track in South Korea where he will square off against veteran sliders, including his longtime friend and teammate Matt Antoine, plays to his strengths. Latour said the American team is in a similar position preparing for South Korea as it was going into Sochi.

“We had a test of it last year in the World Cup,” the coach said. “The results were similar to what we had [in 2014].”

Latour said it sometimes helps to walk away for a few years and come back refreshed. He highlighted Daly’s experience as an asset in preparation for the 2018 games.

“He has nothing to lose,” said Latour, who appreciates how Daly’s comedic side helps steady his teammates during competition. He said Daly has the same energy he had before he left the race. “It’s great to have him around.”

John Daly, with father James, has had a successful season leading up to the Olympics in North Korea, grabbing gold in Lake Placid last year. Photo from John Daly

Daly said he’s proud to represent the United States. After he retired, he went to the gym, where he’d see people wearing sweatshirts emblazoned with the names of the colleges they’d attended. His sweatshirts read “USA.”

“That USA represents every college,” said Daly. “It’s a good feeling to wear it.”

At the South Korea games, Daly will be without teammate and friend Steve Holcomb, who died last year at 37. Holcomb’s story, including a recovery from an eye disease that made him nearly blind to a gold medal-winning driver of the celebrated Night Train sled, inspired people around the world, as well as his teammates.

As with his fellow bobsled and skeleton racers, Daly will be flying down the mountain in a suit that has Holcomb’s initials on it.

Daly will spend a next few weeks preparing for one more chance in the Olympics.

During the training to get back, Daly said his body and his mind demanded to know why he’s going through this work again.

He told himself: “I’m here to finish my career off the way I’d like.”

Bennarda Daly, who will attend the Olympics with her husband, said the South Korea Olympics will give her son something he didn’t get from the games in Russia.

“In South Korea,” she said, “he will finally get closure.”