Double Olympic bobsleigh champion Kylie Humphries has left her native Canada after reporting harassment from her coach, but she still dreams of competing in her fourth Olympics, only this time under the American flag.
Wearing a jacket with the acronym “USA” and her hair tied back with a star-studded ribbon, this adorable, feminine sled character is smiling after what she considers a “wonderful week.”
“I feel a little tired, I’m not going to lie,” the athlete admitted with a laugh in an interview with AFP from Altenburg (Germany), where she participated in the bobsleigh World Cup.
Humphreys was born in Calgary (western Canada) 36 years ago and has just learned that her two-year process to obtain US citizenship has been a success, opening the doors to represent the United States at the upcoming Winter Games in Beijing (February 4-20). .
Two days later, Humphreys climbed to the top of the podium, achieving his 28th World Cup victory. After several years of “big ups and downs,” he now feels “a great sense of pride and accomplishment.”
– “I was scared” –
In August 2018, Humphries filed a complaint against his coach, for moral and physical harassment. This situation led to a rupture with the Canadian national team and its move to the United States, where he participated with its national team in one of the World Cup events in 2019.
Subsequently, an independent investigation by the Canadian Skating Federation found insufficient evidence to prove the alleged harassment.
“My athletic career is over in Canada,” Humphries says. “I knew it was no longer safe for me to continue in that environment.”
The athlete recalls, noting that he was subjected to “threats” and public humiliation.
“I tried to raise my voice” but got little or no support, and he regrets. Leaving “was not an easy decision (…) it killed me.”
Now she dreams of sporting revenge in Beijing, where she aspires to add two more Olympic medals to her collection, one in women’s double bobsleigh and one in women’s monobob, which is something new in this Olympic event. With Canada she took gold in 2010 and 2014, and bronze in 2018.
– Changing mentality –
On social media, Humphries regularly posts videos of his training sessions. With long blonde hair on one side of her head and shaved off on the other, the photos show her doing push-ups at home or working out on the streets of Carlsbad, California, where she lives with her American ex-husband sleigh Travis Armbruster.
She is now convinced that the challenges of recent years have made her stronger and advocates a sport free of tyrannical and violent coaches.
“Change is so free. I feel so free, safe, and empowered in this environment,” she says of her move to join Team USA. “I’m with like-minded people who push me to be the best I can be physically and mentally,” he says. “They consider me a leader… They respect me as a woman and as an athlete.”
He notes that “everyone deserves to be treated with respect, to be in a safe environment and not to be afraid of being beaten, harassed or mistreated.”
Humphreys also fought for more space for women in his sport. At her request, the International Federation opened the Queen’s Test, the four-men’s bobsleigh, to the women, allowing them to compete on mixed teams.
By January 17, Humphreys should know whether she will be able to participate in the fourth Games in Beijing, which for her will already be a great victory.