With A Push From Her Mom, Bobsledder Aja Evans Is Going For Gold
She’s competing for a gold medal with the US Bobsled team and proving that love overcomes bias.
US bobsledder Aja Evans comes from a family of world-class athletes.
Her father was a national champion swimmer, her mother ran track and field, her brother played in the NFL, and both her cousin and uncle played Major League Baseball. Evans was destined to become a great athlete.
Evans became an All-American college track-and-field star, both as a sprinter and shot-putter, and even participated in the 2008 Olympic shotput trials. But when she didn’t make it to the 2008 Summer Olympics, Evans' mother, Sequocoria, pushed her to try branch out instead of giving up.
“My drive comes from my family. From my niece to my mom and my brother...they’re looking at me, cheering me on and wanting me to succeed,” Evans told NBC News Chicago.
So she tried bobsledding, and quickly earned her way to a spot on the US Olympic Bobsled team.
At the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014, Evans used her power, speed, and smarts to bring home a bronze medal.
“Doing sports and all these things my mom exposed me to, it allowed me to go after what I wanted no matter who told me I couldn’t do it,” said Evans, an ambassador for the latest installment of Procter & Gamble’s “Thank You, Mom” campaign, called “Love Over Bias.”
Evans is one of only a few black athletes competing in the Olympic Winter Games, and throughout her career has often faced questions and assumptions that her fellow competitors have not.
“Because I’m from a certain place, because I may look a certain way people kind of make their own assumptions about who I am as a person,” Evans said. When I tell that I do something unconventional like bobsled, they usually follow up with the phrase ‘So how’d you get into bobsled?’”
Fortunately, Evans’ mother prepared her to embrace new challenges, even when the world put obstacles in her way.
“As a child, I thought it was important for Aja to have exposure to the world outside of Chicago,” Sequocoria Evans said. “Black children, other minorities from urban areas, they don’t know the power they have.”
“What I taught Aja is she has to believe in herself and go the extra mile when everybody else didn’t want to,” she continued.
Now, four years later, Evans is back on the ice track, this time competing for gold at the Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. This month, as Evans stands at the starting gate, gripping the sled and preparing to hurtle down the track in front of her, the commitment to hard work and determination that she learned from her mother will again prove to the world that love overcomes bias.
Evans's story, and the stories of other athletes who overcame different forms of bias, inspired Procter & Gamble’s “Love Over Bias” short film. To discover more, visit LoveOverBias.com and join the conversation using #LoveOverBias.