Saskatoon Olympic hopeful isn't letting epilepsy diagnosis slow him down

·2 min read
Evan Neufeldt is a serious contender to be on Team Canada for the 2022 Beijing Olympics. (Evan Neufeldt/Submitted - image credit)
Evan Neufeldt is a serious contender to be on Team Canada for the 2022 Beijing Olympics. (Evan Neufeldt/Submitted - image credit)

When Evan Neufeldt first found out he had epilepsy, he was convinced his athletic career was over.

Neufeldt has been a national-level Skeleton athlete since 2011. The sport features competitors racing down an icy track headfirst on a sled, travelling at speeds of more than 140 km/h.

He woke up one night and his room was a complete mess, with the door handle snapped off. He went to the doctor and learned he had experienced a grand mal seizure.

Neufeldt has had seven grand mal seizures so far, peaking with him breaking his neck while in hospital last year after falling out of bed during an episode.

"I thought it was going to change everything," he said.

Neufeldt stepped away from the sport for several years to deal with his diagnosis. However, his doctors managed to get him on the correct medication and, with his coaches' urging, he got back on the Skeleton track.

Last year, he competed in the Canada Cup and won Silver. He said racing down the track is like nothing else.

"I don't feel like I'm on the ground anymore, really," he said.

"There are times we're under extreme G forces, but truly, it's like flying."

Neufeldt said he has to be careful to take his medication and get enough sleep. He also needs to be very careful of concussions, although he said the chances of him crashing his sled are very slim.

There are benefits. One of the most important parts of his treatment plan is exercise, which he has no problems getting during his training regimen.

Ultimately, Neufeldt said he's got a 50/50 chance to make it to the Olympics next year, but he likes his chances.

"I don't need a miracle," he said.

"I don't need to be better than I've been. I need to be as good as I've been."

Neufeldt has partnered with Epilepsy Canada to bring awareness to the condition.

Even Neufeldt (centre) is in competition to compete for Canada in next year's Winter Olympics.
Even Neufeldt (centre) is in competition to compete for Canada in next year's Winter Olympics.(Evan Neufeldt/Submitted)