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Football star finds renewed confidence on bobsleigh track

Football star finds renewed confidence on bobsleigh track

Posted on: March 10, 2014
Author: Jennifer Kohle


Introducing Jesse Lumsden, Team ATB Bobsleigh athlete

For Jesse Lumsden, football seemed to be his destiny. His father, Neil, was a running back in the Canadian Football League for 10 seasons and won three straight Grey Cup championships as a member of the Edmonton Eskimos in the early '80s.

Jesse was a star running back in high school and with McMaster University before being selected in the first round of the CFL draft by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Jesse spent six seasons in the CFL, including a season each with Edmonton and Calgary, but injuries tested his confidence and focus.

"It's very challenging (to come back from injuries) but I do it because I love what I get to do. You find out a lot about yourself when you're that low and down in the dumps and when other people weigh in with their opinions. Whether they're right or wrong, it affects people differently. In my situation, I started believing some of those people."

That all changed in 2010, when Jesse was presented with a unique opportunity: to try out bobsleigh.

"I got an email from the Bobsleigh Canada high performance director saying they were trying to put the best possible teams together for Vancouver," Jesse recalls. "It was an opportunity to get away from what I had been doing all my life and experience something new, at the minimum. At the maximum, possibly go to the Olympics, which was a pipe dream at that point."

But just a few months later, Jesse found himself competing in the Vancouver Olympics, where he helped Canada's two-man and four-man teams to fifth-place finishes.

"People say [I retired from football] because of the injuries. It was actually because I wanted to put all my focus and energy into one or the other," he explains. "The experiences that I had at the Olympics and the motivation from coming fifth place in both of my events was enough to drive me to want to be on the podium with Canada across my back."

Jesse has since won a World Cup gold medal and a silver medal at the World Championships. With pilot Chris Spring at the helm, Lumsden finished seventh in the Two-Man Bobsleigh in Sochi. On the second-to-last day of competition, Jesse's Four-Man Bobsleigh, piloted by Justin Kripps, crashed. None of the four were injured, though the crash eliminated the team from contention for a spot on the podium.

Watch Jesse's video and learn how you can support Team ATB

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