February 2, 2006
Don't wake him up!U of A footballer Bissett suddenly an Olympic bobsledder
By TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun
'How To Become An Olympian In Less Than 100 Days.'
David Bissett should write a book.
There are 198 Canadian athletes headed to Turin for the Olympic Winter Games and none of them have a story to tell like his.
Almost certainly there will be nobody else in the entire Olympic village who can say they'd never taken up their sport until Nov. 16 and are about to live an Olympic dream they never ever had.
On Nov. 12, David Bissett of Edmonton was playing football for the U of A Golden Bears against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies in the Canada West Final.
"The first time I went down a bobsled track was four days later," said Bissett in an interview from St. Moritz, Switzerland. "When I was finished football, I went to Calgary and spent some time on pushing starts in the ice house and then took a couple two-man and a couple four-man trips down the bobsled track. That was the first time I'd ever been down a bobsled track."
SENT HIM OVERSEAS
They sent him overseas for the Europa Cup in places like Konigssee and Altenberg in Germany and St. Moritz, Switzerland.
They liked what they saw. They moved him up to the World Cup circuit where the remainder of the schedule involved trips back to Konigssee, Altenberg and St. Moritz.
"I'd been in the ice house in the summer a couple of times. But I'd never taken a run down the track before November."
Edmonton driver Pierre Lueders first identified Bissett as a future sledder.
"I was in high school in 1998 and made it to the city 100-metre final. After it was over Pierre came up and talked to me. He gave me his card. I was probably the biggest kid in the final. He tried to convince me to come try it out. I thought it might be interesting. But I was about to begin my two years mission work for the Mormon Church and ..."
They sent him to Las Vegas. Sin city.
"Actually, once you get away from the strip, it's not much different than home," said the former Edmonton Sun paper boy of four years who grew up in Millwoods.
Completing his mission, he went to the U of A, taking up football and track and field.
"Matt Hindle, who recruits talent for Bobsleigh Canada, talked to my track coach and I received a letter in the mail to come out to a camp. I went out to the ice house a few times last summer in Calgary. It was fun. I still hadn't gone down the bobsled run yet. But when it came to pushing a sled, I did well. So I agreed that when football was done, I'd give it a go."
He's graduated to brakeman for pilot Serge Dupris in 'Canada 2' in both two-man and four-man sleds for the Olympics.
If Lascelles Brown hadn't got his citizenship, Bissett would have been moved to 'Canada 1' with Lueders for the Olympics.
"That's what they talked to me about. But I'm so glad Lascelles got his citizenship. He's a better athlete and a better brakeman than I am at this point."
'How To Become An Olympian In Less Than 100 Days' still seems like fiction to Bissett.
"I'm still kind of in a state of disbelief. I'm trying to think of another sport I'd be able to do that in. No way could I do this in any other sport. It's just so weird to be able to do this so fast."
In a way, Bissett says it's almost embarrassing. There are athletes who have had the Olympic dream since they were kids and poured their entire being into becoming an Olympian and missed by a fraction of a second or a judging point or two.
"Four months ago it didn't cross my mind I'd be going to the Olympics. I never had an Olympic dream or anything.
"I look at it from another athletes point of view and probably think it isn't fair. I think of myself playing four years for the Bears in football and if someone came out and zipped to the top right away with no experience and how I would feel," said the son of Ron and Kim Bissett and the oldest of eight children, most of whom he says are more excited than he is.
"And I'm pretty excited. We got one bag of our Olympic outfits here yesterday and I can't believe how great getting that stuff is when you get it.
"I mean, it's just clothes."
Clothes which say you're an Olympian. Clothes he didn't dream of wearing 100 days ago.