Challenge SPORT

Give up control to win

Softballer turned champion bobsledder, 2010 Olympic bronze medalist and 2014 Olympian Elana Meyers overcame a severe eating disorder before she became a superstar

MEDALISTS: Erin Pac and Elana Meyers on their way to bronze at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics

In 2013, Elana Meyers delivered an outstanding performance with two silver medals; one at the World Championships, and another at the World Cup in Sochi, where she added her start time of 5.19 seconds to her many start records at tracks around the world.

Adding to her athletic ability is her academic achievements with a Masters in Sports Management and a B.Sc. in Exercise Science, knowledge that she applies in her role as an Athlete Director on the board of the US Bobsled & Skeleton Federation.

Although she was formerly a professional softballer, Elana tried out for the national bobsledding team in 2007 after softball was de-listed as an Olympic sport.

"It was amazing and I was hooked right away," Elana recalls of her first bobsled run.

With outstanding track times, she was an ideal brakeman: a fast and muscular athlete who can push the sled for the first 50 meters, then crouch behind the driver until they reach the end of the refrigerated icy concrete tube.

By the following year she was not only in the US team, but had won a bronze and a gold medal from two different World Cup events. At the 2009 World Championships Elana pushed with driver Shauna Rohbock to win silver, and won Olympic bronze at the 2010 Games with Eric Pac as driver. And now, in the 2014 Games, she will be in the driver's seat.

Before Elana rode a bobsled, she was playing softball at university, but her consuming passion to succeed resulted in a self-destructive addiction.

Elana and Aja
NOV 30, 2013 - Driver Elana Meyers and Aja Evans celebrate 2nd place at the World Cup in Calgary, Alberta, Canada

"My softball performance started to determine who I was as a person," she says, in an interview with

“In that instant, I knew that I didn’t have to have control”When her team and her own performance began to drop-off, she admits she wanted to "control something" and that something became her diet and weight.

"I started to obsess about how much I weighed and soon began starving myself and binging and purging, which offered a temporary emotional release, and made me feel in control. I was caught in the throes of a vicious addiction," Elana shares sadly.

As her health declined, she was placed on a psychiatric program by her university's medical staff.

Although she says she recognised that things had gotten out of hand, her condition continued to worsen until she realised she needed something else in her life.

She started researching various religions, starting with Buddhism. A Jewish friend gave her a copy of 'The Purpose Driven Life' by Christian pastor Rick Warren.

"I started following the instructions in [Warren's] book and read one chapter a day, but I still was struggling."

Working out one day at the gym, she began crying while reading about Buddhism. She realised that she could not rely on herself to overcome her destructive lifestyle, instead she needed the God of the Bible.

"In that instant, I knew that I didn't have to have control, and God had control of my life," she explains.

Elana and Aja finish
Nov 30, 2013 - Elana and Aja Evans finish their second run at the World Cup in Calgary, Alberta

"I stepped off the elliptical [trainer], and I felt as though a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders, God had made my burden lighter.

"In that moment my relationship with [Jesus] Christ began. And just as easily as I was caught up in the addiction that is an eating disorder, God removed my addiction and set me free.

"It wasn't until I found Jesus [by believing in Him as Lord and Saviour] that I realised I didn't need control and would never have it."

Soon, Elana joined the Christian university ministry of Athletes In Action.

She discovered how Jesus had taken the death penalty she deserved for her offences towards God, and how knowing Him gave her the assurance of eternal life. Eventually, she became an AIA group leader.

Since then, she says, "Although my battles have changed and the struggles are different, I know that with God, all things are possible and that I do not have to have all the answers, I just have to trust in Him."

She recalls feeling devastated when softball was removed from the Olympics, but, trusting in God's guidance, she turned her attention to bobsledding.

"The biggest thing I focused on all along was the dream of the Olympics," Elana told "It took a lot of prayer and faith, trusting where God was leading me."

Although Elana believes being an Olympian is one of her greatest achievements in life, she still says there is one greater honour.

"Although God has allowed me to achieve much, I know it's all to glorify His holy name," she says.

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