Athlete of the week: Bryan Fletcher
If you want to characterize Bryan Fletcher with only a few words, ladies and gentlemen, you will soon notice that you can't avoid the word "fighter". Because currently Bryan Fletcher is fighting remarkably well: With a lot of courage and engagement the 25-year-old had a great race after a good jumping performance in the second competition in Liberec and finished fourth - a career best for the athlete from Park City, Utah.
But Fletcher is not only a fighter in sports. At age 3 the American was diagnosed with leukemia, the following seven years he was fighting with chemotherapy and a stroke as a consequence of it. At the same time young Bryan Fletcher discovered ski jumping and a little later, at age six, cross country skiing.
He remembers: "I was hooked from day one. I would divide my time between chemo treatments and the sport, which helped to keep my spirits alive. I would spend two weeks in Denver undergoing treatments and a week in Steamboat, throwing my body off a jump and into the air! Ultimately, this helped me to fight for my life." Besides his ambition in sports it's also important for the 25-year-old to stay involved in the fight against cancer. Holidays in the competition break over summer? Not for Bryan Fletcher who is ambitious in his training and also in dedicating his time to various organizations raising money for families affected by leukemia.
In addition to that Fletcher can also be describes with the words "modesty", "willingness to learn" and "optimism". He didn't lose his cool after the 19th place in the first competition in Liberec, on the contrary. "I think it was the best way to prepare myself for future races in this conditions. Tomorrow could be exactly that, and after watching my teammate ski his ass off in this condition I know that speed in attainable.", he wrote on his website and he also looks up to other athletes to improve his performance. "Bill Demong was impressive to say the least. Watching him or Mikko ski in these conditions is probably the best teaching anyone can get."
Coach Dave Jarrett has high hopes for the future for Fletcher. "Bryan is he is a great person, teammate and athlete. He has worked very hard to get to where he is and is very deserving. Furthermore, this is just the beginning, he will continue to improve."
After his World Cup debut in Val di Fiemme in 2009 the American constantly improved and was also not stopped by an injury in 2010. He calls the winter 2011 his breakthrough season with an eight place in Ramsau and consistent Top 30 results that made him the most successful American this season. And even if he was not on the podium yet in 45 World Cup competitions, coach Jarrett is nothing but optimistic: "Bryan is getting closer and closer to the podium. It will happen one day. He is definitely on the right track."