Appiah's tough outing in Beijing comes with lessons learned, eyes on 2026 Games

Cynthia Appiah didn't have the Olympics she hoped for in Beijing, but the Canadian bobsledder is returning home keen to rest up and start the process all over again toward Milan Cortina 2026.

She didn't win a medal, but 31-year-old knows she proved she belongs

Canada's Cynthia Appiah reacts during the women's monobob event following the third heat. The 31-year-old finished eighth in the event. (Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Cynthia Appiah didn't have the Olympics she hoped for in Beijing, but the Canadian bobsledder is returning home keen to rest up and start the process all over again toward Milan Cortina 2026.

The 31-year-old, competing in her first Games after serving as an alternate four years ago, finished eighth in both her events — the monobob and the women's two-person bobsleigh. She went into Beijing ranked third in monobob.

"Overall I would say it's a positive experience, especially this week with two-woman. Monobob, definitely disappointed," the Toronto native said. "I had a lot of high expectations.

"It was hard to pick up from that and move into the two-woman event, but I also knew I had my brakewoman [Dawn Richardson Wilson] that was counting on me to put down solid performances and I think that was the motivation that I needed."

The disappointment left her with lessons learned in handling pressure.

"I think I [without] realizing it, put a lot of pressure on myself to manufacture results instead of letting it happen," Appiah said. "That was what I moved into the two-woman week with — not to focus on the result but to focus on each run. 

"Even though I finished in the exact same position in both disciplines, I was much happier going into the two-woman week and happy with the results I came out with. Main takeaway would be to not put so much expectations and such pressure on myself."

WATCH | Appiah suffers crash in 3rd heat of two-woman event:

Canada's Appiah suffers crash during 3rd run of Olympic bobsleigh event

7 months ago
Duration 1:51
Canada's Cynthia Appiah and brakewoman Dawn Richardson Wilson crash during their third run of the 2-woman bobsleigh event at Beijing 2022.

Appiah had a frightening crash in the third heat of the two-person event, but she and she and Richardson Wilson felt good that they were able to come back and have a good run in their fourth and final heat, despite being out of medal contention.

Appiah came into Beijing not only seeking a medal, but hoping to change the perceptions some people have about Black athletes serving as pilots in bobsled, and proving that she and others like her belong.

"Within the sport of bobsleigh, there is some kind of invisible ceiling where Black athletes that do come into our sport, they stay as brakemen," she said. "A lot of us are slowly transitioning into that pilot seat and we're all successful and starting to show what the capabilities of Black athletes are."

WATCH | Being Black in Canada at the 2022 Beijing Olympics:

Being Black in Canada at the Olympic Games

8 months ago
Duration 24:44
Canadian athletes connect with Being Black in Canada's own Tamika Forrester to discuss what it means to represent more than just your country, on the world's largest stage.

With the Beijing Games behind her, she is looking to build on the confidence she's come away with and what she's accomplished in the last quadrennial with eyes on the 2026 Milan Games.

"I know I've got the talent. It's taken some time for me to believe it but I put in all the hard work and I deserve to be here," she said. "I know I've come across fellow competitors who may not necessarily think that I deserve to be here, which is unfortunate, but that's them and their insecurities manifesting itself. 

"I can't control what they think of me, I can only control what I do and that is to keep on putting performances down that are up to my calibre and I have very high expectations for myself. Just keep on chugging along and having more confidence in myself and letting that manifest into great performances coming forward in the next Olympic Games, next world champs, next World Cup season."

With the Games behind her, Appiah is keen to finally go home and rest before the upcoming season ramps up.

"We've been away from Canada since October, and I've been away from home in Toronto since June," she said. "I am beyond excited to finally get home and see my family, see my friends and just be able to relax for some time before things can ramp up again for the Milan quad."

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

(CBC)

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