I believe the Support4Sport program is really the best thing to happen to sport in Nova Scotia in a very long time

Ken Bagnell, President
Canadian Sport Centre Atlantic

Luke Demetre

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Putting on the brakes
Luke Demetre

Luke Demetre New Glasgow
Bobsleigh, Four Man Bobsleigh – Brakeman
Canadian Bobsleigh Team – 2014 Olympic Winter Games

When Luke Demetre ran as part of Dalhousie University’s track team, he knew he wanted to race in the Olympics one day. But at 20 years old, he thought it would be as a runner.
“I was training with the Dal track team and this guy came up and asked if we would like to try bobsled,” says the now 22-year-old New Glasgow native. “He needed a brakeman for an upcoming America’s Cup race. Turns out that I was the only one that was able to go.”
That “guy” turned out to be Canadian bobsled pilot Alex Torbert who noticed Luke stood out as a potential bobsled brakeman because of his size and speed. He took Luke to Lake Placid, New York and after the first week, and finishing 6th in one race, Luke was hooked.
The following year, he made the national bobsleigh team and as one of the youngest members, now competes in the 4-man crew. As the brakeman, Luke is the last person to jump in the sled after pushing it to a competitive speed and the guy who puts on the brakes after they’ve crossed the finish line.
While most of us wouldn’t dream of cramming into a 12.5 foot sled with three other adults and barreling through an ice canal at 150 km an hour, that’s exactly what gets Luke’s blood pumping. He says the pushstart is like a graceful ballet of power and speed.
“You run and push as fast as you can down the hill and then all of a sudden everyone is trying to jump into the sled at the same time. It the most incredible feeling,” he says. “As you racket through the corners you can feel the pressure building. And when you enter the straights it’s like you’re in a plane that’s taking off. It is one of the biggest adrenaline rushes I’ve ever had.”
Training for the rapid speed wasn’t easy. Luke had to gain 25 pounds and train his six-foot-two frame to run faster all while working full time and juggling school. During his toughest days, motivation from his family and his hometown kept him going, even when he was exhausted.
“My mother told me early on to chase my dreams to the best of my ability. That has kept me focused and gave me the drive to get where I am today,” he says. “And being from New Glasgow, I learned how to work hard, to never forget where I’m from and to be my best at all times.”
The Support4Sport program was also there for Luke with crucial funding to help him train, without which he would have suffered major set backs.
Support4Sport was my first source of funding, which is so important to get in your first year,” he says. “It has helped me in a huge way by giving me the ability to buy equipment, train early and travel to train with the national team. Ultimately it lets me concentrate fully on my sport.”
Since its inception in 2006, Support4Sport has raised more than $21 million for amateur athletes, coaches and community sport organizations in Nova Scotia. One hundred per cent of profits from Support4Sport designated lottery tickets go directly into the program.
With funding worries behind him Luke headed to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi as an alternate for the Canadian Bobsleigh Team. Not expecting to compete, Luke spent time outside of the Olympic Village helping maintain racing equipment. “It has always been my dream to go to the Olympics,” says Luke. ‘I want to do this for my family and the people that helped me along the way.”
In an unexpected turn of events, pilot Justin Kripps and his three teammates crashed in the second run leaving them in last place. While none were seriously injured two members of the team weren’t medically cleared for further competition. Even though Kripps didn’t have to make another run, he did so the next day to give Luke and another alternate, Graeme Rinholm from Calgary, the chance to compete. This incredible show of sportsmanship made Luke the first Nova Scotia to ever compete in Olympic Bobsleigh.
Tom De La Hunty, bobsleigh coach and former British Olympian in the 1984 and 1988 winter games, met Luke in 2010 and sees a very bright future. “I have great plans for Luke,” he says. “Whether he knows it or not, I want him to train to be a bobsleigh pilot starting next year, and hopefully in front of a bobsleigh in the next four years.” Coach De La Hunty says a brakeman gets batted all over the place and is at the will of the trainers and pilots on whether they’re in or out of the team. “My advice to Luke is to control your own destiny, get in the front seat and become a pilot.”
Luke admits it’s not always been easy, but he believes that passion and determination will get you anywhere. “You can do anything you put your mind to and you just never know where you’ll end up. The journey is definitely worth everything you put into it.”


New Glasgow, NS
44° 16' 38.172" N, 64° 15' 33.8328" W


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