Q&A with former Morgan track and field athlete competing in Winter Olympics

Rolando Reid, a 2016 Morgan graduate, is a member of the 2022 Jamaican four-man bobsled team.


Rolando Reid's Instagram

Rolando Reid, a Morgan graduate, is competing in the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Thalya Baptiste, Staff Writer

For the first time in 24 years, Jamaica has a four-man bobsled team competing in the Winter Olympics, and a former Morgan State track and field athlete is a member of the team.

Rolando Reid, a 2016 Morgan graduate, debuted in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Winter competing for Jamaica. Reid is the first Morgan athlete to compete in the Winter Olympics.

In a Q&A interview with the Spokesman, Reid reflected on his time at Morgan and what participating in the Olympics means to him.

Can you give a quick bio or introduction about yourself, starting with your time at Morgan and what you’re doing now in the Olympics? 

Reid: I started Morgan in 2012. I graduated with a bachelor’s in economics, Bachelors of Science in Economics in 2012. Then I started MLA in 2016, and I then departed to UMES to join their grad program. At Morgan, I ran track and field for four years, received several academic awards where that is concerned. I also was the top GPA recipient of Thurgood Marshall in 2012. I received a Gold Medal at the MEAC outdoor championships in 2015, I believe in the 4×4. I was a runner-up in the javelin in 2016 and also third place recipient in the 4×1. I was a part of some honor society, I don’t even remember which one it is, I wasn’t really involved, per se. Took most of my time to track. I was the VP for the SAAC, the Student Athletic Advisory Committee. I was VP for three years in that. That’s pretty much it. 

What are you doing in the Olympics with the bobsled team? 

Reid: Okay, so I am actually a member of the four-man bobsled team. My role is basically to just push the sled as fast as I can and hop in and have the pilot take us down safely. It’s more than just pushing. Honestly, it’s a lot of preparation in terms of making sure that the sled is up to standard for the race. So we do a lot of background checks and mechanical work per se, where that is concerned. So that’s pretty much it.

For people who are not familiar with this particular sport, or this particular event in the Olympics, what would you say it’s all about?

Reid: It’s all about teamwork for me. The stronger you are as a team or as a unit, the easier it is for this sport. It takes a lot of discipline and a lot of focus. It’s almost as if you’re training like a sprinter, lifting like a weightlifter, and eating like a sumo wrestler. So it has a lot of traits that pick from different sports or different events and come together as one. Also, it takes some level of knowledge of the sport in terms of mechanical, knowing how the sled operates, and also adaptation because it’s a cold sport, winter sport, so you have to be able to adapt to that type of weather. And when we arrived here, it was pretty, pretty decent. And then as soon as race day, it just got really crazy, – 15F and that kind of thing. So you have to be able to adjust and just be a team player. The stronger you are as a team, as I said earlier, the better it is for you and your crew.

How do you feel that your experience with Morgan and being on the track and field team shaped or prepared you to do what you’re doing now in the Olympics?

Reid: Oh, it definitely played a significant role. Being at Morgan, I’ve learned a lot from Coach Neville Hodge and Coach Janice Smythe. I think they acted as parents for me, while I was there, and just guided me the best way they could. Being at Morgan, to even get up at 5:30 in the morning to go to track practice that, in itself taught me some level of discipline. And bobsleigh, in relation it’s a time sport and you have to be on time, because if you miss a bus, you technically might miss your race. So just being at Morgan and going through some rigorous things in terms of getting to practice, ensured getting to the bus on time. I think that had prepared me and not only that, Morgan, within itself, is a different kind of institute. I mean, it’s a HBCU and oftentimes, we have to represent for that population. And being here at the games is no different. It was very few people of color in the games. So just being here and knowing that I represent such a population, I think it is key, and it pushes me to want to be represented more. So Morgan definitely had played a significant role in this journey.

Do you have anything that you would like to say or add to fellow Morganites, or specifically Morganites that are currently on the track and field team?

Reid: Believe in your coach, definitely. Oftentimes, we tend to think we know it all and forget that the coaches are there for a reason. Believe in your coach, try to develop a relationship that can better suit you as an athlete, you know. The more you trust in your coach, the better it is for you as an athlete. And believe in yourself. I was a track athlete and it didn’t work out for me because of injuries and that kind of thing, but at the same time, while that door was closed, another one was open. So just follow your dreams and by whatever means just survive and try to make it happen.