Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hershcel Walker - 1992 Winter Olympian

While there have been many Olympians who spent years at the University of Georgia, none are as famous as the greatest football player in Georgia history, Herschel Walker. Herschel was amazing both on the football field and on the track during his years in Athens, but in 1992, Herschel would head to the Winter Olympics to compete in another sport: Bobsled.

The United States Olympic Committee granted Herschel a late tryout following the completion of the 1991 NFL season. Herschel's team at the time, the Minnesota Vikings, missed the playoffs and Walker immediately went to try out for the US team. He made quite an impression on US Coach Jim Hickey, who was quoted as saying, "It takes a great athlete to be a pusher, combining speed and strength." But it was not just his physical abilities that allowed Herschel to make the team, it was also his effort and attitude. Hickey said, "He brought a desire to win. It was something he conveyed in meetings. The guys were very attentive to what he had to say."

Herschel was named the brakeman for the #1 sleds for both the 2 and 4 man bobsled teams. CBS ran this story leading up to the games. Just two days prior to the competition, Herschel was taken off the 4 man team at the request of driver Randy Will. Herschel had replaced Will's friend, Chris Coleman, on the team and despite being the better athlete, Coleman ultimately took Walker's spot. (More on this story can be found here.)

Despite the drama that surrounded Walker being replaced, he (along with partner Brian Shimer) finished seventh overall at the Albertville games. The four man team which he was removed from finished 9th.

As we have seen in recent days, Herschel continues to excel a many sports outside of the football field. When the Olympic Opening Ceremonies take place later this week, don't forget that one of Georgia's favorite sons made his mark there 18 years ago.


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