From Sprinter to Brakeman: Andre Marcano Masters Bobsleigh Two Weeks Before Winter Olympics
Andre Marcano hails from sweet, sweet T&T. The 35-year-old sprinter was seasoned by the tropics. So, when bobsled veteran Axel Brown contacted him on Instagram last year to join Trinidad and Tobago's 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics bobsled team, Andre was skeptical.
After all, bobsledding, also known as bobsleighing is a winter sport. It involves sliding down an ice-covered, twisting incline on a high-sided sled at 93 miles per hour. Speed, agility, and power are essential to pushing a 384-pound sled down the ice and rapidly hopping into it as it curves and careens down the track. Surely, maneuvering such a technical sport requires years of extensive training.
"At first, I was like, 'Um, I'll let you know. I'll get back to you.' And then I didn't," he confessed to The Washington Post.
Up until that point, Andre was a sprinter. Though he never made it to the Summer Olympics to represent his country, his track record is still impressive. Marcano proudly wields a best time of 10.34 seconds in the 100m dash and 6.73 seconds in the 60m dash. He was also a finalist three times in the 100-meter dash at Trinidad and Tobago's national championship and a member of the country's 2021 world championships 4x100-meter relay team until the meet was canceled due to the pandemic.
Axel Brown's persistent outreach to Marcano via Instagram finally paid off. He sold Andre Marcano on his experience in Britain's bobsled program, both as a brakeman and a driver, his financial backing, and his vision. With the prospects of making a Summer Olympics team in his rearview mirror, the high school physical education teacher set his sights on the Winter Olympics. Now, all they had to do was qualify.
Andre attended push training at a facility in Utah, before heading to a push competition in Calgary. With only two days of training, not only did the pair meet the Canadian push standards, Andre and Axel had onlookers in disbelief at the times they were clocking. Andre also beat Axel's best time when he was a brakeman.
In an Instagram post on January 24, Marcano shared with his followers, "I am so thrilled to be going to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. I will be representing my beloved Trinidad and Tobago. The journey to get here has not been easy - I've had early morning practices while working full-time, wrestling with self-doubt, but my faith in God and community has encouraged me to keep pushing."
Alongside his teammate, Axel Brown, a British/Trinidadian, Andre Marcano represented Trinidad and Tobago in the Winter Olympics in February. In six-degree Fahrenheit weather, the two-man team sped down the treacherous mountain in the northwestern suburb of China. This bobsled course was a far cry from the short, straight tracks Marcano had trained on a few months prior. The Yanqing National Sliding Centre has continuous icy loops and curves and features a vertical drop of 120 meters from start to finish.
National Sliding Centre in Yanqing known as the "Flying Snow Dragon" - Getty Images
While the pair finished 28th-place out of 30 sleds, Andre's unexpected Winter Olympics journey is one of courage and resolve. Not just anyone has the physical or mental grit to shove a massive chunk of metal down slippery ice, especially not someone who was born under the gaze of the Equator – but Andre Marcano did. His first-ever bobsled race was in the Olympics. That's very uncommon for any athlete in any sport.
Andre Marcano helped ink Trinidad and Tobago into Winter Olympic history. He was also the first athlete to carry the Trinidad and Tobago flag in the opening ceremonies – an honor usually reserved for athletes who have previously competed for that country in their chosen sport.