JOHN Jackson was delighted to bring a testing year to show-stopping end by clinching Great Britain’s first FIBT World Cup medal for 16 years last weekend.
The 36-year-old, who lives in Paxcroft Mead with British women’s number one pilot Paula Walker, saw his chances of being fit for the Winter Olympic qualification season thrown into doubt when he suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon last summer.
But the men’s GB1 driver and his crew of Stuart Benson, Bruce Tasker and Joel Fearon bagged a stunning silver in the four man bob event at Lake Placid on Sunday.
The Great Britain quartet finished just 0.07 seconds behind the host nation’s crew, piloted by Steven Holcomb, earning their country’s first World Cup podium place since Sean Olsson drove a British team into the medal positions in 1997.
“It’s a great end to the first half of the season and it’s fantastic for everyone involved with the team,” Jackson told the Wiltshire Times.
“We’ve had a couple of fourth or fifth-placed finishes in the past, like at the World Championships (in St Moritz) this year, so we have been close to the podium but it’s different to actually being on it.
“I think the nicest thing was that I had other athletes coming up to me to say ‘we take our hats off to you because we couldn’t do what you do and couldn’t put ourselves through what you have’.
Jackson suffered the injury during summer training and required surgery to keep his dream of driving at February’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, alive.
“There is still a bit of pain at the moment,’’ he added.
“I definitely felt a bit in Park City (on December 7) and if you look at the videos, you can see the pain in my face at the finish line.
“But it goes away soon afterwards and I think we’re all getting towards where we want to be for the Olympics.”
After returning to this country on Tuesday, Jackson (pictured above, after crossing the finishing line) was straight back at Bisham Abbey’s intensive rehab unit as he continues his relentless quest to be back to full fitness for Sochi 2014.
He said: “I’m definitely not at 100 per cent yet and it’s been important to keep having sessions over there to get the power back in the muscles.
“I’ll have a bit of down time around Christmas and then I’m off to Switzerland on Boxing Day to go and test some equipment that we may or may not be using at the Olympics.
“We’re back in training on December 30 and the next World Cup is in Winterberg (in Germany) in the first weekend of January.”
Meanwhile, Walker and brakewoman Rebekah Wilson finished 13th in their women’s race at Lake Placid and is 12th overall after three rounds.
FOR MORE SPORTS NEWS, REPORTS & PICTURES SEE THURSDAY'S GAZETTE & HERALD AND FOLLOW US ON TWITTER @gazsport