Brett Perry makes a run for a place on the 2022 Olympic team

July 16, 2019, 11:24 a.m. (ET)

It’s a struggle many elite athletes face; balancing hard-core training with the need to earn an income. National Long Track Team Member Brett Perry tackles that challenge every day as he trains at the Utah Olympic Oval with the hope of making the team for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.

Brett grew up in Midland, Mich., and skated with the Midland Speed Skating Club since he was 9 years old. He specialized in short track for 13 years, and even moved to Marquette, Mich., to train at the US Olympic Education Center when he was 16. As a 20-year-old, he switched to long track skating, competing in the sprint distances.

“I picked up skating long tack pretty fast, but I didn’t have long track boots, so it wasn’t the easiest switch,” he says. “Once I got myself the right equipment, it made a huge difference.”

During the 2018 Olympic trials in Milwaukee, Brett’s first 500m race was strong and his chances of making the team were good, but in the end he finished just one spot short of making the team. Now he’s making a run for the 2022 Games.

It’s Brett’s sixth summer training at the Utah Olympic Oval, and his second year on the national team. He’s figuring out how to balance work with the intense training necessary to stay competitive at a world-class level. He endures 30 hours of rigorous training every week, and works at Dick’s Sporting Goods and Specialized Bicycles for another 30 hours each week. He doesn’t sleep much.

“I’m very determined,” he says. “I planned to retire after the 2018 Games but I got an invitation to the national team and I thought I had to take advantage of this opportunity or I’d regret it.”

Family members and friends have been a big support for Brett, both emotionally and financially. His parents, grandma and many others have helped fund his Olympic dreams and skating career. He’s also recently engaged. Brett proposed to his girlfriend, Stephanie Harms, over the Fourth of July holiday. He says her encouragement keeps him moving forward.

“I have a supportive girlfriend. She’s a nursing student who will graduate at the top of her class this year. We met on Tinder four years ago and I’m ready to ask her to marry me.” (Spoiler alert: she said yes.)

Brett says there’s a distinct difference in culture between long and short track skaters. Short track skaters tend to be younger and riskier, while long track skaters are more mature and steady. At 26 years old, Brett enjoys the mental aspect of long track speedskating where your opponent is the clock and not a pack of skaters nipping at your heels.

“With my short track background, my strength is in the corners and long track training has helped me become more efficient in the straightaways. I used to psyche myself out, like at championships and world cup qualifiers, but I don’t do it so much anymore.”

During his rare down time, Brett enjoys Netflix and playing video games. Once his skating career concludes, he’d like to create a company doing video game design. Brett has a GoFundMe page for anyone who would like to contribute to his Olympic journey. Every bit helps, especially as training intensifies over the next two years.

“If you put a lot of work in to speedskating, you can go really far. This is a sport not many people know about. It’s so unique.”

 

Help support Brett’s Olympic journey and donate to his GoFundMe page today.