MEET with the sports star who is about to make history – by becoming Ireland’s first Luge Olympic athlete.
Full-time doctor, Elsa Desmond will take to the track, first legs, in Beijing next week, where she will hit 140 kilometers in her bid for Olympic glory.
Before that, Elsa will have the proud job of Flag bearer of Team Ireland for the opening ceremony on Friday.
It’s a huge honor for the 24-year-old, who admits people are often shocked to learn that Ireland even has a Luge athlete.
Never mind, an Olympics.
Speaking from Beijing, Elsa said: “I’ve had a lot of people say, ‘Irish do luge?
“People just realized a few weeks ago that I represent Ireland and they say, ‘Oh’?
“I’ve had a lot of people surprised that I’m Team Ireland, so I’ve had all sorts of countries listed on different starting lists, I’ve been to New Zealand a few times, I’ve been a UK. , I’m German, I’m Norwegian, because people are like, ‘really, Ireland? Do you have luge?
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“But fortunately, it’s not so much here (in Beijing). Ireland has had teams in the Winter Olympics for the past 30 years, so I don’t think there’s been too much of a reaction from that side.
“Here, I think everyone is a surprise, you never know who will be here.”
Elsa, who is originally from Cavan and Cork, first became interested in the sport as a child, watching it on TV.
After watching previous Winter Olympics games, she was ‘haunted’ – which came as a shock because growing up she was ‘terrified of everything’.
She said: “I never stopped being obsessed with the sport, and I followed it for years and then ended up getting hooked on it, but I will never fully understand why.
“My dad always joked that I was afraid of my own pajamas. I didn’t but he told everyone that. I’m scared of everything, but I’ve learned to get over it.
“There was no one from Ireland, and no one from the UK, when I watched the women’s race. There’s no one that I feel represents me, so I thought you know? I will represent myself because I was a kid who thought I could do anything. “
Nothing is BIGGER
After years of training in the sport, Elsa is now Ireland’s first Olympic Luge athlete, competing in the Women’s Singles event next Monday at the Yanqing National Skating Centre.
She also single-handedly founded the Irish Luge League in 2020.
Elsa thinks it will be ‘decades’ before Team Ireland gets a medal in the sport but she will see gold no matter the outcome, she said.
She said: “Becoming the first Irish athlete to compete in the Olympics for the sport and the first woman in the world, it was great because I felt like I was creating something. , and I hope others will follow in my footsteps.
“It’s great because if you’re the best, someone can come along and get better but if you’re the first, no one can come along and take that away so it’s great to be a part of it. history”.
Elsa spent time as a doctor at Southend University Hospital in the UK focusing on Beijing.
But she will return to work immediately on February 12, just days after competing in the ‘fastest sport on ice’.
She said: “I was extremely lucky, the hospital I worked for gave me four months of winter time off every year to go to work as a luge.
“I fly back on the 11th, so I will have a few days in the village after the race to enjoy the whole atmosphere.
“Because of of Covid you have to leave the village 48 hours after your event, so everyone leaves after that so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on something good. ”
For now, however, Elsa is enjoying every last second of the experience.
And she has a pack of tissues ready when she wears the Irish tricolor on Friday night, representing her team and her country.
She said: “I don’t know if I’ll cry when I step outside, because it’s going to be a lot, but when we got around the stadium, I had tissues ready.
“When I was a kid, I always remember loving it (the Olympics) because people come together for something they love, which is sport.
“All of these countries are bringing out the best they have and coming together for something they love, I think that’s amazing.”
Beijing has been affected by itbiggest Covid outbreak in 18 months – just a few days before the Olympics start.
Elsa, who is in the Covid bubble along with all the other athletes, says they are doing their best to stay as safe as possible.
She added: “It’s something we’re all aware of, there’s so much at stake, all of which can be taken away quickly.
“Because we’re all aware of that, we’re all doing as much as we can, like washing our hands 500 times a day. You wear a mask, social distance and you do everything. There’s not much I can do more than that, and if that’s meant to be and if it isn’t, then no.”
https://www.thesun.ie/sport/8292190/winter-olympics-ireland-first-luge-athlete-elsa-desmond/ People are shocked when I tell them I represent Ireland, Winter Olympics hope Elsa Desmond says