WINTER OLYMPICS: Jackson and Walker bound for Sochi
TROWBRIDGE couple John Jackson and Paula Walker were this morning confirmed in Great Britain's squad for next month's Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.
The Paxcroft Mead couple, Britain's number one men's and women's pilots will lead this country's medal bid as Great Britain mark the 50-year anniversary of the famous gold medal win by Robin Dixon and Tony Nash in Innsbruck by sending a 10-strong bobsleigh squad to the Games.
For the first time since 2002, the squad will consist of two four-man teams after Lamin Deen's GB2 sled squeezed into a qualification place following a hectic final weekend on the World Cup circuit.
The GB1 sled will be piloted by Jackson, who capped a remarkable recovery from a serious Achilles injury in the summer by steering his team a silver medal at a World Cup race in Lake Placid earlier this season.
He said: ""To represent Team GB for a second time is a great honour. What makes it so special for me is that the official team announcement comes exactly six months after a full Achilles repair operation.
"I'm looking forward to performing on the greatest stage, the highest level of competition with my teammates. We hope to make the United Kingdom proud in Sochi."
Team GB Chef de Mission Mike Hay said: "Bobsleigh has had its ups and downs this year but ultimately gone from strength to strength and there is no better proof of that than the fact that we have qualified a second four-man bob for Sochi, the first time since Salt Lake City in 2002.
"I am particularly pleased for John Jackson, who will pilot one of the four-man sleds after making an extremely impressive recovery from a ruptured Achilles he sustained last July, less than eight months out from Sochi."
Jackson's sled also includes brake-men Stuart Benson, Joel Fearon and Bruce Tasker, while Deen will be pushed by John Baines, Ben Simons and Craig Pickering, who also represented Great Britain at the 2008 Beijing summer Games in the 4x100m relay.
Pickering said: "I only started in bobsleigh 13 months ago, so to come from nothing to being selected for Sochi, it's been hard work, but I've made it and I am excited to have been selected to compete for Team GB again.
"That's why we do sport - to compete at the highest level and there is no higher level than the Olympic Games."
Walker will return for her second Games in the women's competition, having finished 14th on her debut in Vancouver four years ago. She will be pushed by Altrincham's Rebekah Wilson, who will make her Games debut.
She said: "“It fills me with great pride to represent Team GB once again. Eight years of hard work have gone into trying to be the best physically and mentally. I hope that we do our country proud in Sochi.”
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