After arriving to Beijing literal hours before his race, Olympic speed skater Casey Dawson was left in a pinch when his flight misplaced his luggage.
He had his uniform and skating boots, which had been packed in a carry-on bag. However, the blades for his skates were in the missing checked bag, according to People.
As the clock ticked down to the start of his race — the men’s 1,500m — Dawson was in a pinch.
According to the New York Times, a last-minute save came from his Latvian competitor, Haralds Silovs.
Silovs reportedly uses the same type of blades as Dawson and generously loaned him an extra pair.
After arriving in Beijing approximately 12 hours before the start of the race, Dawson was able to make it to the starting line to represent the U.S.
He finished in 28th place out of 29 competitors. Despite what would seem to be a disappointing finish, Dawson was happy to have made it at all.
“Stepping to the line was the biggest thing for me,” Dawson told USA Today. “I didn’t think I was going to get to the line in the first place.”
Dawson’s Olympic ambitions were almost entirely waylaid when he was diagnosed with COVID-19 a few weeks ahead of the games.
After qualifying for the 2022 Olympics, the speed skater missed the 5,000m race due to his diagnosis.
In a post on Instagram, he said that he would not be able to compete in any of his individual races. Although he was justifiably upset about the news, the 21-year-old took an optimistic stance.
“All I can do is continue to train, and keep the dream in sight for the team pursuit,” he wrote. “I am going to be stronger and more prepared than ever before, and with the team I have behind me, I know great things are to come.”
Check out his post below:
Thankfully, Dawson was able to make his second race after returning four consecutive negative COVID tests. The New York Times reports he took approximately 45 tests over the last three weeks.
Emery Lehman, one of Dawson’s teammates, told USA Today how big of an achievement it was for the speed skater to make it at all.
“For him to come in, touch the ice and then skate all within 12 hours of landing – and the time change. And the jet lag. And sitting on a plane for that long? It’s something I’m glad I would not have to do,” Lehman said.
Meanwhile, Dawson reiterated his joy at making it in a post on his Instagram Story.
“I got to the line, that is all that matters,” Dawson wrote alongside a graphic that displayed his stats in the race. “I am now an Olympian.”
Check out his message below:
The Olympic athlete reflected on what the games mean to him in a post on Instagram earlier this year.
“The Olympics means a lot to me. It shows how my dedication to something, not just to sport, can take me to places I never thought imaginable,” he wrote. “I’ve always looked at Olympians as superheroes, and to finally become one of them is still growing on me.”
Check out the post (and an adorable throwback pic) below: