My name is Darryl Payne, Jr.. 10 years ago, a dream came to mind. A dream to represent my country in a way that presents power, grace and camaraderie. A dream that many people often pursue, but few succeed in achieving. I am training for a spot on the United States Olympic Skeleton Team.
Okay, so what exactly is Skeleton?
Glad you asked! I asked the same thing when I first heard about it, but we’ll get to that story later.
Skeleton is one of three sledding sports that take place at the Winter Olympic Games. Similar to Luge in that I’m sliding down a serpentine ice course on a sled, inches from the ground—except I’m going down HEAD FIRST wearing nothing but a helmet and speed suit! Speeds can reach in excess of 90 mph but it is actually safer than Bobsled or Luge which each travel faster.
After the mention of the speeds the sled can reach, I always get asked, “What made you want to do that?!”
The answer to that lies in a call from the US Olympic Committee to athletes across the country, to try and become the Next Olympic Hopeful . Originally, I was selected to compete to be a fully funded bobsledder, however, I’m much smaller than the necessary mass required to get that sled moving down the track. After the scouting camp was completed, I was pulled aside by the Head Coach for US Bobsled and offered an invite to go out to Skeleton School in Lake Placid, New York. The sport is much better suited for my frame and mass. Think about it: I’m 5’9.5”. Bobsled needs me to be 102 kg (225 lbs). Skeleton needs me to be 84 kg (185 lbs). Make sense now?
Once the end of the skeleton school neared it’s completion, there was the Rookie Push Championship and I placed second after only a week of learning the sport.
A competitor of sprints from the age of 7 years old, and well into my career on the high school track, I’ve been very successful athletically. Achieving ranks such as Everyday People Combine Winner, Austin Fit Magazine's 4th Fittest Man, and maintaining a top 20 status with the True Athlete Games. However, adding this new sport brings about many new challenges—mentally, physically and financially.
Here is a break down of what my expenses look like for this sport and what your donation would be going towards.
Airfare $428 (avg.)/round trip
Car Rental $300/week
Ice Brush Spikes $350
The goal is the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, however, I will be competing a couple times this year at Western Regionals (Februrary 2) and Eastern Regionals (March 8).
Currently, no African American has ever represented the United States at the Winter Olympic Games in Skeleton. An added bonus to this new dream would be to serve as a role model for younger generations, that in many cases, believe there are no other options. Serving as a light, and a pioneer for my community in this sport would truly be an honor.
Your favor, on my efforts will indeed give the grace needed in order to transform a dream into a reality.
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