‘That was my moment’: Finally, Daly can close book on Sochi
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — There was no medal. There also was no disaster.
For U.S. skeleton veteran John Daly, that was enough.
This is why Daly put his real-world life on hold again for a couple years and came back to skeleton: He had to make sure that his final memory of an Olympic Games wasn’t his wobbling freefall that sent him plummeting from medal-hopeful to also-ran in the fourth and final heat of the Sochi Games in 2014.
Mission accomplished. Daly finished 16th at the Pyeongchang Olympics, far from medal contention, yet more than enough for him to declare his comeback a success.
“That was my moment,” Daly said after Friday’s final run — maybe his last as an Olympian, maybe his last in sliding. “I didn’t get a medal here, but to me that was my medal run. I got to do four runs, lift my head up at the end, hold my head high, walk off the line and wave to my family. That’s something I didn’t get four years ago.”
In Sochi, his head was in his hands and tears rolled down his face.
All smiles this time.
He isn’t planning on sliding next season, though he hasn’t totally slammed the door shut on coming back one day, especially with the world championships coming to his home track in Lake Placid in 2021.
If this was the end, he’ll be content. And that wasn’t the case when he retired after Sochi.
“I guess I just didn’t want to wake up one day and realize I should have tried,” Daly said. “And that was why I came back, is just to give it one more shot and truly see where the chips stack up. If I’m not in the medals, then I’m not in the medals. What are you going to do? But I gave it one more shot and I hope my story is inspiring someone else out there to just give it another go.”
Daly is, by many accounts, a goofball.
At least, that’s what he wants you to think.
Daly’s public persona, the one he shares on social media, is of a happy-go-lucky, hair-obsessed, overly vain guy who doesn’t take himself seriously. If he’s awake he’s either Snapchatting or plotting his next snap; tormenting longtime friend and U.S. bobsled push star Steve Langton has been his go-to move at the Pyeongchang Games, and he’s hoping to hang out with golfer John Daly — a new Twitter buddy — before long.
“I just want to enjoy the moment, and I enjoy it best when I’m laughing,” Daly said. “This comes once every four years. I’ve had it three times in my life, I don’t know if I’m going to get it a fourth, and it works better for me when I’m happy.”
Deep down, he’s much different than the character he plays.
He’s kept his full-time job at a medical device sales firm in Washington while training and competing around the world, even missing some pre-Olympic festivities with the team because of his work responsibilities. Teammates in bobsled and skeleton rave about his work ethic, on and off the track. And he’s taken the responsibility of bringing more eyeballs to his niche sport very seriously.
“He’s probably one of the more sensitive athletes that I’ve ever known,” said Amanda Bird, a former Daly teammate and now the communications director for USA Bobsled and Skeleton. “As goofy as he is, he’s one of the most sensitive athletes you’ll ever meet. That guy has a heart of gold. Hard not to cheer for him, you know? He’s that guy.”
The emotions have been obvious over the last few days on Daly’s social media . He was even updating between heats Friday, telling his supporters that he had them in mind.
“This is a moment that I’ll remember forever,” Daly said.
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