Thursday, October 27, 2016

Sable Otey’s journey to the 2018 XXIII Olympics Winter Games in PyeongChang, Korea

Bobsledder Sable Otey is determined to make it to the Winter Games
in PyeongChang, Korea. (Courtesy photos)
Bobsledding is synonymous with track and field in terms of the preparation that’s needed to reach the finish line. In both sports, the athlete would need strength and conditioning training, balance, speed, power, perseverance, and the right mindset. Chip in a healthy work ethic too.
And it wouldn’t diminish the athlete’s athleticism one iota to secure a sponsor or a benefactor who wouldn’t mind making a monetary contribution toward a worthy pursuit – the 2018 XXIII Olympics Winter Games in PyeongChang, Korea.
That athlete is Sable Otey, a 29-year-old native Memphian who knows what it takes to succeed in both sports. She sprinted in high school, college, and post collegiate. Now she’s turned her attention to bobsledding, a winter sport she is training thrice as hard for to qualify for the Olympic team.
Sable Otey: Olympic bound.
“Some athletes are funded. I have to work full time,” said Otey, a physical education teacher at two Shelby County Schools –  Lowrance Elementary on Monday through Thursday and Cromwell Elementary on Fridays.
In addition to her teaching duties, Otey juggles a hectic training schedule with her family – a husband of more than 10 years, Navy veteran Reuben Otey, and their son, Amar’e.
“I train three to four hours a day. It’s very exhausting, very tiring,” said Otey, training as the breakman. “I wake up in the morning and I have to train before work. Then I have to train after work. It’s hard to try to find time for everybody. Some kind of way I make it.”
The family works together, she added. It’s a cohesive unit.
“We make it work together. That’s the most important thing. I can’t do it by myself. I can’t do it without the support of my family. They understand if I come home and just fall asleep. Some days I just come home and I’m just beat.”
But not that beat that Otey would fail in her quest to make it to the Olympics. But she wasn’t always sure of herself, or whether or not she has the talent, skills and moxie to make it to PyeongChang and bring home the gold medal.
“I was down on myself at first, because I have this great opportunity. But I can’t execute it fully,” said Otey, noting how difficult it is to train for the bobsled event. “I can’t train for four or five hours like I need to because I have to go to work.”
Otey’s desire to compete in the Olympics manifested in 2011 while training for the 100-meter hurdles. Then she got pregnant and had to table her plans. But another opportunity to make it to the Olympics would spark interest by way of a simple suggestion.
“My god brother actually told me about it (tryouts in South Carolina). He said I should go and try out for the team,” said Otey. She did, on Aug. 8, 2015, and received the second highest score, men and women combined. The next day, she received an email from the United States Bobsled Federation inviting her to the rookie camp in Lake Placid, New York.
“For some reason I just couldn’t figure out how to push that sled correctly to save my life. I couldn’t figure it out. It was horrible,” said Otey, struggling through the three-month tryout. “I ended up getting a hamstring injury. That set me back a little bit, but I kept pushing through.”
She made the team in October 2015. Now she’s focused on the 2018 Olympics. James Lancaster coaches sprinting and weightlifting when Otey trains at D-1 Sports and Injuries Training Center in Collierville, Tenn. Guy Cullens coaches sprinting and strength conditioning when she’s training elsewhere. Both coaches work pro bono.
Last week, Otey trained at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, New York. “I’m super sore, super exhausted,” she said. “But I need to work on a couple of things, things like sprinting and running fast. The real deal is working on the ice. That’s where it counts.”
As the breakman, Otey has to be strong and physically fit. Her timing has to be spot-on too. A two-woman sled (without the crew) can weigh up to 300 pounds. It can travel up to 90 miles per hour on ice depending on the push from the breakman.
The next competition is in Calgary, Canada. Then Otey will be on her way to Whistler, Canada, until she makes it to PyeongChang, Korea.
For more information on Sable Otey’s journey to the 2018 XXIII Olympics Winter Games, go to, call (901) 337-3966, or email her at A Go FundMe account also is set up for donations at

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