JOHN Jackson’s chances of leading his country at next year’s Winter Olympic games rest solely on a six-inch piece of tissue in his right leg, but the Great Britain pilot says that not making Sochi 2014 simply is not an option.

Jackson, who is based in Trowbridge, went under the knife last month to repair the ruptured Achilles tendon he sustained during training at the University of Bath and is now sweating on his fitness ahead of next February’s games in Russia.

But the 36-year-old, who competed at Vancouver 2010, reckons his recovery is on track and, as Great Britain’s number one pilot, is determined to be back to drive his country towards Winter Olympic glory.

“We were doing plyometric training and when I landed, I knew that it had gone instantly,” said Jackson.

“From my experience in the Royal Marines as a rehab instructor, I thought ‘right, I can get back in four months or it’s going to take six to nine months’ so I’m either going to be at the games or I’m going to be watching it on the TV.

“I had all faith in my own ability to get back because I was already thinking of stuff to do while I was laid on the floor. There was part of me that thought ‘this could be it; Olympics over’.

“But the medical team down at the intensive rehab unit at Bisham Abbey are very, very pleased with what’s going on – the operation was a success.

“The surgeon gave me a timeline of 16 weeks post-op and we start racing 19 weeks post-op but that 16 weeks is only a rough estimate.

“Either way, the timeline sort of fits to ready and being ready for the games is the main thing.

“By the time the start of the season comes, will I be in as good a shape as I could have been prior to the injury? We’ll never know.

“But as long as I’m in shape to start the season, I can get stronger and faster and we just need to be in a position to get enough points to qualify by January 19.

“The only thing in control of this whole thing is my Achilles – it’s that little thing (in my leg) that’s in control of my destiny and my future as an Olympic athlete.

“But I told the boys shortly afterwards, ‘look, I’ve fully ruptured my Achilles but we will stand together on the start line as a team at the Olympics’ and I still believe that.”