Kim Meylemans and Nicole Silveira are rising stars in the world of skeleton. The two out sliders are both top-20 in world rankings and are getting ready to face one another at the Beijing Games.
Oh, and they’re dating! How’s that for a plot twist?
“It’s very special to be able to share (the) Olympic games with your partner,” Meylemans told Outsports. “It’s an extremely stressful high pressure period, so to have my person there as a comfort and safe space is of immense value to me, and also my performance. It brings a sense of calmness and normality into the most crazy weeks of our career.”
We were first introduced to Meylemans in 2016, when the now-25-year-old was one of several skeleton racers who refused to compete in the World Cup, because it was supposed to be held in Sochi, Russia. At the time, Russia was accused of presiding over the systematic doping of its Olympic athletes. The International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Foundation eventually moved the tournament to another location.
Years later, Meylemans revealed she was harassed and threatened by Russians for being LGBTQ, with some detractors equating homosexuality to cancer. She was a teenager at the time.
Meylemans competed at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, becoming the first Belgian skeleton athlete at an Olympic event. She was fractions of a second away from medaling, finishing just 1.80 seconds away from the bronze.
Since then, Meylemans has amassed several top-10 finishes in the World Cup, World Championships and European Championships, and recorded the fastest time during a test run at the brand new skeleton track in Beijing.
She also met Silveira. They connected through skeleton three years ago, and they have become closer with each other over time. They went public as a couple with their first “official” Insta post last December — a landmark in any relationship.
“As time went on, our connection grew stronger and well, here we are now,” Silveira told Outsports. “We talk a lot about how this is a very unique situation. Where we are actually competing in the same sport but against each other. It’s fun and challenging all at the same time.”
Silveira, 27, won gold in the Skeleton Intercontinental Cup last November. Brazil’s new winter sports sensation took home four gold medals at the America’s Cup. She’ll look to enjoy the same success in Beijing.
That is, unless her girlfriend stands in her way.
Reporting hat tip to Cyd Zeigler.