Queen’s alum Chris Patrician heading to the Beijing Winter Olympics for bobsleigh

Former football player turned national bobsleigh champion prepares for first Olympic showcase

Former Gael Chris Patrician is on his way to Beijing this February.
Supplied by Chris Patrician

Chris Patrician, ArtSci ’14, will represent Canada at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics for bobsleigh.

After spending much of his life involved with competitive sports in some form or another, Patrician knew his athletic career wasn’t over when he graduated Queen’s as a football player in 2014. Looking for ways to continue his athletic career, a dear friend and mentor of Patrician’s, Harry Howlett-Ben, introduced him to the sport of bobsleigh.

“It’s a natural transition for an athlete like me, explosive and power-driven. So [Howlett-Ben] showed me the way and said it was a good path for me to take,” Patrician said in an interview with The Journal.

Although he had no exposure to the sport prior to Howlett-Ben’s introduction, the training regimen, strength, and physique necessary for his second man position in the sled is what Patrician developed in football and hockey.

“My training is focused for about an eight-second run only, so my background with sprints, reaction-time drills, and overall power really helped me gain success,” he said.

As it would happen, that success would come quickly. After officially starting his bobsleigh career in 2015, Patrician was picked for the national team less than a year later.

After seven years of hard work and a monumental qualifying performance in Switzerland this year, Patrician finally achieved his goal of representing Canada at the Olympics.

“It was truly a beautiful moment when we found out we qualified, especially being in Switzerland, the birthplace of bobsleigh [...] it really came full circle,” he said.

“It came down to this last race in order to accomplish what we set out for, so it was really amazing when we got to see it through to the end.”

Patrician credits CAN Fund, a charity that accepts donations to provide aid for Canadian athletes required for their sports career, for his ability to solely focus on bobsleigh and the upcoming games. Without this funding, on top of the support from his friends and family, Patrician doubts he would be in the position he is today with the success he’s had.

However glamourous it seems now, Patrician’s career in bobsleigh has not been all smooth sliding. Suffering a serious ankle injury in 2017, navigating training and competition throughout the pandemic, and failing to make the Olympic team in 2018 has meant his fair share of challenges.

When asked how he’s managed through his hardships, Patrician referenced his time in Kingston as a student-athlete.

“I absolutely loved Kingston and representing Queen’s as a student-athlete. It defined what a strong community is for me. When I need to keep my head up and push through struggling times, I remember what it means to be a Gael—current or former—and the community that is always behind me.”

Patrician’s love and dedication for the sport was created here at Queen’s, and he’s been thrilled to see the university’s athletic programs continue to progress since his departure.

He hopes more students can experience the special moments of being a Gael that have stuck with him since graduating.

“Being a student-athlete, especially at Queen’s with such an inclusive environment, sets you up for life with so many skills and times to reflect on. I still remember the football coach [Pat Sheahan] telling the team that he takes in boys and turns them into men, and to this day, I believe he did just that.”

Patrician’s positive outlook on the sport he developed at Queen’s also shaped his love for bobsleigh, especially considering it’s so unlike any other sport he’s played.

“The camaraderie is so unique and so powerful. There is so much mutual respect amongst the athletes as it doesn’t depict guys against each other, but rather you against the track.”

According to Patrician, his coach, Quin Sekulich, has been instrumental to his performance thus far—and he has no doubt that if he decides to pursue competing past Beijing, continued mentorship from Sekulich will mean further success.

As the Beijing Olympics approach, Patrician is focused on reminding himself why he’s here in the first place and to release all mental pressure on it being his first Olympic games representing Canada.

“My goal for these games is to keep putting it all into perspective and remembering how far I’ve come. The ultimate goal was to qualify, and now that that is accomplished, it’s all about putting forth my best effort,” he said.

“I just don't want to regret anything because this opportunity only comes once in every four years.”

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