WINTER OLYMPICS: Family cheers raise Paula’s Sochi spirits
PAULA Walker admitted seeing her ‘clueless’ mum’s smiling face for the first time at a bobsleigh track washed away all of the disappointment she felt about her second Winter Olympic campaign.
Trowbridge pilot Walker placed 11th in the two-woman bobsleigh on her Games debut in 2010 with brakewoman Kelly Thomas but finished one spot lower in 12th with Olympic newcomer Rebekah Wilson in Sochi.
Her second set of two runs on Wednesday were slower than her first set of two on Tuesday as she posted 58.88 and 58.60 seconds for an overall time of 3:54.24 minutes.
However, with her mum Denise watching her live for the first time ever and waving ecstatically as she crossed the finishing line after her fourth run, Walker couldn’t help but smile too.
Walker’s Nan, uncle and cousins were all also interested spectators at the Sanki Sliding Centre – although she admitted her family are far from experts in her chosen career of choice.
“I saw my mum in stands screeching away and she looked like she was having a good time, which is fine. If she is having a good time, I am too,” said Walker.
“I don’t think she has really got a clue what’s going on, I don’t think she has. It is a bizarre concept for me. I went through my eight years of bobsleigh without anyone supporting me in terms of being here.
“I was a bit worried that it was going to distract me but when I crossed the finish line, whether it was a really crap run or not, the fact that my mum is there still smiling because she hasn’t got a clue just really makes me smile too.
“No athlete comes in wanting to come 12th at the Olympics but to put it into perspective both Rebekah and I have had a long, long journey in different ways but we have made it to the Olympics and I think we have done ourselves proud.”
Canadian Kaillie Humphries staged a remarkable comeback over the final two runs on Wednesday to defend her Olympic title in a time of 3:50.61.
Meanwhile Walker admitted a sizeable mistake during the first of their second set of runs ended all hopes they had themselves of progressing up the field.
“With this track the characteristics are such that if you make a mistake before corner six it is game over and I made a monumental mistake between corners two to three,” she added.
“It was only to do with me, nothing to do with Rebekah, and we lost about half a second. On the fourth run we just had to come back and I had to make sure I drove it as best as possible.
“You can’t climb places when you make mistakes like that but we have done our best and that is all you can do.”
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MORE FROM THE WINTER OLYMPICS IN FRIDAY'S WILTSHIRE TIMES AND FOLLOW THE PROGRESS OF TROWBRIDGE'S JOHN JACKSON IN THE FOUR-MAN BOBSLEIGH IN SOCHI THIS WEEKEND AT WILTSHIRETIMES.CO.UK/SPORT