PAULA Walker has medal glory at Sochi 2014 on her mind and Great Britain’s number one women’s pilot wouldn’t have it any other way.
The 27-year-old, who lives in Paxcroft Mead with partner and men’s GB1 pilot John Jackson, is vying to make it to her second Winter Olympic games in Russia next February and says that she will not be aiming for anything less than a podium position.
Walker is no stranger to the build-up to a winter Games after finishing 11th on her Olympic debut at Vancouver 2010 and says that she is thriving on the pressure placed on her shoulders.
“I remember this time four years ago – I was preparing as a junior and a novice and as someone who wasn’t expected to go to an Olympic Games, as I’d only just started driving,” said Walker.
“It was always a goal and I was just thinking ‘I want to get to the Olympic Games’.
“I got there and I did relatively well for the position that I was in but this time, it’s a completely different feeling.
“I’ve been to an Olympic Games and I’ve represented (Great Britain) and now we mean business.
“We’re going there for a reason and we want a medal – that’s only thing we’re going to go for.
“For me, the pressure has changed because before, I was GB2 and I was in the background but now I’m at the forefront of the sport and I have to achieve what I’ve set out for the last eight years to do.
“I need the pressure to perform and if they said ‘just go out and do your best’ – that doesn’t work for me.
“I need someone to say ‘you’ve got to perform in x,y and z in every single race’, I think that’s best.”
Walker is expected to be partnered by Gillian Cooke when the new season gets underway but says that the competition for the brakeman position is fierce.
“The brakemen have got an equally hard role to maintain their position because there can always be someone else who’s faster or stronger to take their position,” said Walker.
“So they’re on tenterhooks a little bit this year.
“We’ve got a great bit of competition in the programme and the fact is that, for my sled, there’s only one place but there’s probably about six or seven brakemen that are all trying to fight for that position.”
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