By Todd Kortemeier | Feb. 28, 2019, 12:35 p.m. (ET)

(C) Josh Williamson celebrates after a run.

 

It has been less than two years since Josh Williamson arrived at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to compete in the first season of “Milk Life presents, Scouting Camp: The Next Olympic Hopeful.”

The Florida native had never been in a bobsled before. He didn’t even have a passport. But fast forward to today and Williamson is in Whistler, British Columbia, competing at the world championships with an Olympian driving his sled. Williamson, driven by 2018 Olympian Codie Bascue, was selected for one of three two-man U.S. teams in Whistler.

It has certainly been a trial by fire for the 22-year-old, one that he has emerged from with flying colors. In his first season of competition, he grabbed five international medals, two of them gold. He’s now on the fast track to the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, and it all started with trying out for Next Olympic Hopeful on a whim.

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Athletes apply for the United States Olympic Committee’s talent identification and transfer program and once selected as finalists they head to the OTC to compete for a spot in national team training camps in a variety of sports. Registration is open for the third season at TeamUSA.org/NextOlympicHopeful.

While it’s obviously worked out for him, Williamson would encourage anyone else to pursue their Olympic dreams the same way.

“Just go put yourself out there,” Williamson told TeamUSA.org last May. “I wondered if I should even do it, but I realized that the only way I’m going to know if I’m going to be a good fit for this sport or not is if I go and try. The worst that can happen is ‘No,’ and the best that can happen is what’s happened to me. I would have never gotten that opportunity if I never put myself out there and risked failing.”

The other two-man teams competing alongside Williamson and Bascue are Adrian Adams and pilot Geoff Gadbois, and Olympian Christopher Kinney and pilot Hunter Church. On the women’s side, three-time Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor, Brittany Reinbolt and Nicole Vogt will pilot sleds pushed by Lake Kwaza, Olympic medalist Lauren Gibbs and Nicole Brungardt, respectively.

The two-man competition concludes Saturday, with the women to follow on Sunday. Skeleton and four-man bobsled will take to the track next weekend.

Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.