John Fennell won’t be competing for Team USA at the Winter Olympics in February, after a freak accident in his World Cup qualifying run on Thursday ended his hopes.
The luger, who competed for Canada in the 2014 Olympics, had the fastest start of the day and was in eighth place headed to the final stretch when the runner on his sled snapped and fell off. Incredibly he still finished 21st, but only the top 15 qualify for Friday’s World Cup. That race will determine the U.S. Olympic team.
Fennell was one of five American men in contention for the country’s three Olympic spots, and he looked like a shoe-in for the final until the malfunction.
Fennell quickly took to social media to share his heartbreak:
Heartbroken. Part of my sled broke off during my qualifying run, cutting my Olympic qualification. Seriously crushed to end like this.
I can’t begin to imagine the emotions Fennell is feeling right now. It’s one thing to get beaten in competition, but to lose out on an opportunity because equipment broke is tough to take.
Fennell will forever be an Olympian — This doesn’t take that away from him. And his story and visibility have helped countless youth in sports accept their own selves.