JOHN Jackson was a late arrival at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, but the Trowbridge pilot believes that decision can ensure he is not left behind when the four-man bobsleigh event gets under way next Saturday.
While the opening ceremony and first week’s events got started in Russia this week, the Paxcroft Mead driver and his crew of Joel Fearon, Bruce Tasker and Stuart Benson were holed up in Germany fine-tuning their preparations ahead of their assault on Olympic glory.
Partner Paula Walker, who starts her bid in the women’s two-man event on Tuesday, was among those to take in the spectacle of the Games opening but, having staged a remarkable recovery after rupturing his Achilles in training last summer, Jackson felt further training time with his crew would be more beneficial.
“It’s easier to do your preparation away from it all. It’s a challenge to not go to the opening ceremony because you are trying not to get sucked into all that stuff that comes with the Olympics,’’ he told the Wiltshire Times.
“My rehabilitation (from the injury) wasn’t so bad, but once I started racing, it was really painful. It’s been a hard season for us as a team. We had only managed to push together at the start of the season a few times, so it was important to get back as a team.’’
Jackson’s crew have raised hopes that they can end Great Britain’s 16-year wait for another bobsleigh medal, clinching second place at a World Cup event in Lake Placid prior to Christmas and finishing second in the European Championships in Germany before the Games.
Jackson added: “We’ve had some good results, but the results we have had before are now null and void. You all start from scratch again.’’
His record in the longer events – the Olympics takes place over four runs rather than the standard two for World Cup events – is decent though, his crew finishing fifth at last year’s World Championships.
In addition, he secured another top-five finish during last year’s test event in Sochi.
“Sochi is a good track for us – it suits our equipment and our driving style,’’ he added.
“Any mistakes you make on the uphill sections are going to be double the cost so you have got to be precise. It’s a level playing field because it’s a new track for everybody really.’
“Usually at the World Championships, which are also over four runs, we do well, but the challenge is to be consistent.’’
FOLLOW JOHN'S PROGRESS WITH WINTER OLYMPICS LIVE AT WILTSHIRETIMES.CO.UK/SPORT NEXT WEEKEND AND FOR MORE SPORTS NEWS, REPORTS & PICTURES SEE FRIDAY'S WILTSHIRE TIMES AND FOLLOW US ON TWITTER @WTSport