Sodexo Ambassador Mikayla Dunn on her Winter Olympic dream
Mikayla Dunn and her bobsleigh teammates are self-funded Australian athletes, pursuing their Olympic dream simply for the love of the sport.
Sodexo is proud to be an official sponsor of Mikayla Dunn, who started working with Sodexo in Jan 2014. For Mikayla, the idea of becoming a Winter Olympian was not even on her radar two years ago. As a former Volunteer Firefighter at Kalkallo Fire Brigade and Sodexo employee at TLC Sunlight in Whittlesea, Mikayla started her journey to the Olympics through a serendipitous opportunity through a friend.
“I consider myself a bit of a daredevil and I love adrenaline based activities. Besides being offered an amazing opportunity, I figure how many people can say they’ve piloted a bobsled off the top of the world’s fastest track? That’s got to look good on a resume haha,” says Mikayla.
Mikayla met her bobsleigh teammates for the first time in Whistler when the training season began. “We definitely found our differences quickly being forced to live which each other. But now we are just like sisters, you can have words then we love each another straight after, like any dysfunctional family,” jokes Mikayla.
The Australian Women’s Bobsleigh Team made up of Ashleigh Werner, Breeana Walker, and Mikayla Dunn has just spent the past few months training in Whistler and Calgary in Canada, Park City in Utah USA, Austria, Switzerland, and La Plagne above Albertville in the French Alps. Taking part in an IBSF Emerging Nations training week in La Plange was followed up by the team’s first race on European Soil in European Cup Race # 6.
With Mikayla being in the engine room, she is responsible for giving the team the initial ‘big push’. The athletes push the bobsleigh reaching speeds of about 40km/h before they jump onto it. Once the crew is loaded, the pilot steers the sled through twisting, high-speed turns and straightaways where top speeds can reach over 130km/h. The success of a team hinges on the initial pushing phase, as well as the steering and the materials of the sled, which can get very technical.
In an unfortunate turn of events, Mikayla and her team were denied selection for the PyeongChang winter games despite passing the Olympic qualifiers. Sliding Sports Australia decided not to nominate a women’s bobsleigh team this year due to their internal selection criteria.
Mikayla sounded hopeful saying, “Hitting the best result possible for the team is obviously what we were aiming for. Ultimately, the AOC will decide whether we are competitive enough for Olympics games, so working our way up the ranking was our goal this year. One step at a time… I believe in 2022 we can start aiming for Australia’s best Olympic ranking, which I think is 100% obtainable.”
When asked about her experience working with Sodexo and as an ambassador, Mikayla said;
“It’s amazing to be an ambassador for a global organisation like Sodexo…I actually had 2 ladies at separate gas stations in country Montana and Idaho tell me they used to work for Sodexo in the US. Even on the other side of the world, people randomly point out that they know the name or they know someone who worked for Sodexo.”
“I loved working for Sodexo…the way they look after their employees and how they really encourage the workplace to be not only ‘work’, but a little family.”
“Anyone can be competitive in a sport or follow your dream. It’s hard to work two jobs to do what you love, but I hope (people) see me or other national athletes and say ‘if a country Australian girl can be an Olympic bobsledder, I can sure as hell do this’.”
Good luck to Mikayla and team! Go get them in 2022!