YANQING, China — Belgian Kim Meylemans finished the first day of women’s skeleton in 11th place, removed from any realistic chance of winning a medal in Saturday night’s final two runs. After her troubled arrival in Beijing, though, she felt gratified simply to compete at the Olympics.
“For me to get to this point in these Games was a big achievement,” Meylemans said after her first two runs Wednesday. “It was all far from ideal, but I think we made the best out of it.”
Meylemans tested positive when she arrived despite no symptoms and likely not being contagious — Meylemans originally tested positive a month ago — and moved into an isolation facility. When Meylemans recorded the requisite two negative tests, Beijing 2022 officials mistakenly sent to another quarantine facility rather than the Athletes Village owing to what she called a “communication error.”
Meylemans recorded a tearful video explaining her situation and expressing concern for her ability to compete. Belgian and IOC officials intervened and moved her into the Village.
“The way the world responded was what got me out of isolation so quickly,” Meylemans said. “It was great, honestly, to feel that support, to see other athletes reach out and support me. It’s unfortunate that it happened, but we recovered well. Best to just focus on racing.”
Meylemans’ Olympics barely got easier. Even in the Village, she still needed to remain isolated until Wednesday, two days before skeleton began. She pulled her hamstring during training, which the isolation did not help, and felt “a lot of pain” during her start in her second run Friday. Still, Meylemans remained upbeat and did not feel owed anything.
“The IOC was working really hard for me at the end of it,” Meylemans said. “Everybody was very supportive. So I don’t think I need an apology. What happened, happened. They made sure I got out of there, and that’s all that matters.”
When Meylemans did get out of isolation, the first thing she did was eat breakfast with her girlfriend — fellow Olympic skeleton competitor Nicole Silveira of Brazil, who is 14th entering Saturday night.