Sask. Roughrider Jay Dearborn preparing for Olympic debut in bobsleigh

·3 min read
Saskatchewan Roughrider Jay Dearborn is headed to Beijing as part of Canada's national bobsleigh team at the 2022 Winter Olympics.  (Jay Dearborn/Instagram - image credit)
Saskatchewan Roughrider Jay Dearborn is headed to Beijing as part of Canada's national bobsleigh team at the 2022 Winter Olympics. (Jay Dearborn/Instagram - image credit)

A serious injury at training camp and a season-ending pandemic might make even the most-seasoned CFL veteran throw their hands up in despair.

But not Jay Dearborn.

While he was sidelined from playing as a defensive back with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Dearborn started training with Bobsleigh Canada, and eventually won a seat on Canada's national team for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

When he returned to play for the Riders this year, Dearborn said his fellow teammates were surprised to hear about his new athletic career.

"Some of the guys were pretty impressed and pretty shocked," he said.

"It really felt like they were rooting for me and they were excited to see how I could do."

Dearborn's journey started in 2019 following his release from the Riders due to a training camp injury. After returning to Ontario to train and recuperate, he was approached by a strength coach at Ottawa's Carlton University, who was also a recruiter for Bobsleigh Canada.

He managed to attend a bobsleigh training camp in Ontario before the Riders called him back and re-signed him to the team.

Dearborn's football career seemed to be going great, until the 2020 CFL season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

So, he decided to return to bobsleigh, and ended up being named to the national team that year.

Even though he played a full CFL season in 2021, he continued on as a part of the national bobsleigh team as well.

He said the Riders' coaches and staff have been very helpful and encouraging.

"They were super supportive of allowing me to keep that door open throughout the season," said Dearborn.

"On bye weeks I was headed over to Calgary to train on the indoor ice surface there."

WATCH | Former Sask. Roughrider ready for Olympic bobsleigh debut:

Training for the sports

Dearborn said there are many similarities to training for bobsleigh and football.

"They go pretty well together in my off-season training," he said.

""When I'm in the gym, I don't ever feel like I'm putting one on hold to train for the other because both of them have very similar off-season goals."

Dearborn said he still can't get over the fact that he's heading to the Olympics. He remembers watching the Games on television as a kid, wishing that he was there.

"You get caught up in the magic of it, in the excitement of like the Canadian athletes and you're really, really cheering for these Canadians to succeed," he said.

"But I definitely never thought I would be competing in bobsleigh."

Athletic connection

Sarah Storey, president of Bobsleigh Canada, said that bobsleigh regularly attracts athletes from different sports, like track and field, football and hockey.

Storey said bobsleigh is a "late-entry" sport, where recruiters look for established athletes from other sports, and then bring them in.

"Bobsledders are big, strong, powerful, explosive and fast," she said.

"We tend to find excellent bobsledders from sports like football, track and rugby because they have that unique blend of strength and speed."

Storey said a successful bobsleigh team needs to quickly and forcefully push the sled off the starting block to get it going. Once they're in the sled, that momentum is the only force pushing the sled down the track, along with gravity.

She said Dearborn isn't the first pro athlete to compete in bobsleigh for Canada, citing athletes like former CFL players Jesse Lumsden and Sam Giguère.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting