Memphis woman heads to S. Korea to support Team USA in Winter Olympics

Memphis woman heads to S. Korea to support Team USA in Winter Olympics
(Source: WMC Action News 5)
(Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - It's just under a week away from the kickoff of the Winter Olympics and an East High School graduate will become the latest Mid-Southerner to go to the Olympics.

"I was just going to stay only for the races and someone mentioned to me why don't you stay for the closing ceremonies, and I was like 'I would love to stay for the closing ceremonies,'" Sable Otey, Team USA bobsledder, said.

Otey is on the U.S. bobsled developmental team, and she will be in Pyeongchang for the Olympics, supporting her teammates. Otey is a brakeman for the U.S. bobsled development team. She's spent six years training for these Olympic games.

"We're in the back of the sled. We are the engine for the sled. We make the sled go fast," she explained.

And going fast is her first love, which stared in track and field. Fast-track to becoming a wife and mother, Otey put her Olympic dreams on hold in 2012--until the day her godbrother introduced her to the ice.

"Actually I wasn't really into it, didn't really know anything about bobsled," Otey said.

She focused her energy on becoming one of the best in the sport.

Ice House Memphis allowed her to train at their facility free of charge, and the Tennessee College of Applied Technology provided a practice sled.

As Otey travels to South Korea, most of her trip is self-financed, but she has several ways that you can donate to help her represent the United States.

"They can reach out to me via email, I still have the GoFundMe. However they want to donate, they can do it," she said. You can also send via PayPal by clicking here.

Like many Olympic games overseas, athletes face fatigue and foreign disease.

"We still have to make sure that our housing and stuff is funded, and I also found out that a few people were getting sick," Otey said.

Pyeongchang, South Korea, is nearly 7,000 miles from the Bluff City and a definite contrast in culture.

"I went out on a whim and tried out and here I am today," she said.

Otey grew up on the brink of homelessness in Binghampton, and she fought her way out of poverty on the path of sports and education.

Otey is now a wife, mom, and a full-time physical education teacher at Lowrance Elementary. She balances her time with her family with training on the ice and sharing her story with students.

"Speaking to young girls, I love doing that. I do a lot of the women empowerment for moms," she said.

With just days left before the Winter Olympics, Otey spent her Saturday at the Memphis Botanic Garden giving back.

It was an event aimed at teaching children about the culture and competitions.

"Things like bobsledding, curling, figure skating, we've got some figure skating students here," Charity Siebert of the Memphis Botanic Garden said.

Otey said as the games draw near, she's thrilled to share a piece of her hometown with the world.

"I'll be out there representing Memphis, and I'm super excited," she said.

Otey says she will be the first African-American mom to bobsled for the U.S.

[Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify that Otey is on Team USA bobsled's developmental team and will not be competing for a medal in Pyeongchang.]

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