When I started January, I knew it was going to be a busy one, one way or the other but I had no idea that the story would end with a medal in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
But first some background, for 5 years I worked down at the track at Bath University with the Paralympic sprinters. As many people know the GB skeleton and bobsled teams train down there as well, so our paths crossed. That is where I met the quiet, intelligent and unassuming man Dom Parsons. Ever since then, we struck up a friendship and I have worked to help keep him fit and firing on all cylinders. For many years we discussed how great it would be if I could go out and help him and his friends at an official world cup race. It is always so much easier and dare I say it more effective, when you are working at that level to be able work at the event and between races. So this year we agreed that I would come out to help in St Moritz, Switzerland, in mid-January…it helps that the skiing is St Moritz is superb and Swiss hospitality isn’t bad either. By going out and watching Dom, his partner Jackie (Team Australia) and friend John (Also team Australia) race it gave me real insight into the stresses put on the body during skeleton and subsequently refine my treatment to help potentially increase the athlete’s performance on the track. The sport is incredibly technical and it is comparable to Formula One, not just in the sense that it is really really fast but the technology in the sled is fundamentally important. Dom uses a sled made and designed by Kristan Bromley, former three times Olympic athlete and legend in the sport. Both Dom and Kristan share an education in high level engineering which I’m sure helps with the relationship. I believe that by Kristan adjusting the sled to the course and Dom, and then me adjusting Dom to the sled and trying to give him maximum launch from the start we are aiming to get slider, sled and track as one for optimum speed and the lowest course times.
This was the second to last race before the season ends at the Winter Olympics in Pyeong Chang. Up until now Dom had a season that was below his normal standards. Last season Dom medalled regularly on the circuit and was GB number 1. This year Dom had not yet medalled and was frustrated with his performance. I am super happy to say that for the race in Switzerland everything came together and Dom got his first medal of the season, confirming his spot as GB number 1 and followed that up the week later with another medal cementing his place in the GB Olympic Team. (Jackie got a best in two seasons position on the leader board and John got a track record push start, just saying).
Just before Dom left for Korea, he popped into Cleve Chiropractic for one last treatment before the 2018 Winter Olympics for a ‘top up’ and humblingly gave me his race vest AND his medal from the race in St Moritz. For the first time in my life I was speechless. Nobody deserves somebody else’s medal and I can’t help but see how much that medal would mean to him, but Dom insisted that I had it and thanked me for helping get his season back on track. Even as I write this I find it hard to express just what that kindness means to me, but that is Dom, he is kind, modest and beneath it all, fiercely determined. He has held off a bright career in Engineering as he trains full time and works on his PHD.
Enter Dom on the Olympic stage. After some impressive warm up runs in Pyeong Chang Dom was well placed to put down a good time and sure enough, against the best in the world, after his 2 runs on the first day he was in 4th place. Even 4th place would be an exceptional result if he could keep it going for the final 2 runs the next day. However, Dom laid down his fastest run of the competition for his 3rd run putting him in 3rd place and a genuine medal contender if he could just hang on…The 4th and final slide saw him make a tiny error that left him in 2nd place with 2 of the best sliders in the world to go. You could see that he knew that it could have cost him as he sunk his head into his hands but down came the normally perfect and current world champion, Latvian Martins Dukurs, but Dukurs made a slightly bigger mistake and eventually finished behind Dom! Then the flying Korean came down to seal his huge lead with a Gold. So after 4 runs Dom finished 3rd by 0.11 seconds with a Bronze Medal in the 2018 winter Olympic Games. Everybody who knows Dom ‘the wizard’ Parsons would agree that there is no better guy in the world that could win that medal. He has the best attitude in an athlete that I have ever seen and talent, pure talent. Thank you Dom for letting me go on a small part of that journey with you. All the best to you and Jackie, we can’t wait to see when you get home, from all the team at Cleve Chiropractic and congratulations you medal winning Olympian.