Ben Coakwell has always dreamed of being an Olympian. As a child he would watch the hockey, bobsleigh and speed skating events and pretend he was competing against the athletes on television. His first sport that he played was hockey and it wasn’t the NHL that fuelled his passion, but the Olympic Games.
The dream came closer to reality after he got a firsthand introduction to bobsleigh. Having seen former CFL running back Jesse Lumsden make the successful conversion from football to bobsleigh in 2009-10, his interest in the ice track was piqued. A running back himself at the University of Saskatchewan, he had the choice to either pursue a professional football career or try bobsleigh. After attending a blue chip prospect bobsleigh camp in March 2012, he never looked back.
Coakwell made his World Cup debut in November 2012 with pilot Chris Spring. In just his third four-man World Cup event, Coakwell pushed the Canada-2 sled piloted by Spring to bronze.
Coakwell made his Olympic debut at Sochi 2014 as a member of the four-man sled piloted by Justin Kripps. Coakwell had originally been scheduled to compete with Spring, but there was a late reorganization of the crews to put the team’s top pushers into a sled with Kripps, who had proven to be the best Canadian driver on the Sochi track. Sitting eighth after the first heat, the sled overturned on turn 12 in the second heat. Coakwell was not medically cleared to finish the competition due to a stiff neck and shoulder injury.
Getting into the Sport: Grew up surrounded by organized sport… Spent most of his youth playing hockey and lacrosse competitively… Began playing football in grade 12… His size and speed caught the attention of Bobsleigh Canada and after attending a blue chip camp in March 2012 pushed his way onto the national team… When Coakwell moved to Calgary in September 2012 to begin fulltime training, he moved in with Jesse Lumsden… Outside Interests: Played football for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies on an athletic bursary… As a running back, led the team in scoring and rushing in 2010 and 2011… Also represented the Huskies in track and field as a sprinter… Graduated in 2012… Enjoys abstract painting and watching movies… Finds it calming to put on some music and paint… The night before a race he will watch one of his favourite movies… Odds and Ends: Nickname: 10 speed, because when he was younger he didn’t have a bike but could run fast and keep up with his friends… Favourite Olympic memory is Simon Whitfield’s triathlon gold medal at Sydney 2000… Inspired by NFL running back Adrian Peterson for his ability to stay focused on his goals and his continued improvement… Collects postcards during his travels… Favourite quote: “He sendeth rain on the just and unjust alike.” – Matthew 5:45