Lancashire TelegraphIt’s all smiles for ecstatic Walker (From Lancashire Telegraph)

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It’s all smiles for ecstatic Walker

Lancashire Telegraph: Paula Walker Paula Walker

BLACKBURN bobsleigh star Paula Walker will be out to banish the memories of her debut Olympic appearance when she returns for her second Games.

Pilot Walker suffered a crash, where she was brakeswoman in the second GB sled, in qualifying but still managed to finish a credible 14th in her debut year.

But she remembers the Vancouver Games for watching on as her partner, and fellow GB bobsleigh athlete, John Jackson crashed on his way down the track.

“I’m not usually an emotional person, but I was in tears,” said Walker.

“Every crash hurts a bit, but it was John’s state of mind that worried me. I knew what the Olympics meant to him.”

But she need not have worried.

Both will be back in action for team GB in Sochi next month after having their selections confirmed yesterday.

And they form part of a 10-strong bobsleigh crew that has come a long way from the disappointments of the past few years.

Walker will be pushed by Altrincham’s Rebekah Wilson, a Games debutant, and has been set a target of a top eight finish.

The Blackburn star was crowned world junior champion in 2011 and has gone from strength to strength in the senior competitions.

The 27-year-old is in the Army signals regiment and lives with Jackson – a sergeant in the Royal Marines – in Trowbridge.

Jackson’s selection for Sochi is even more impressive given he snapped his Achilles tendon during summer training.

He battled back and claimed a World Cup silver medal in Lake Placid in December underlining his form.

Team GB Chef de Mission Mike Hay believes the bobsleigh squad, which also includes former Great Britain sprinter Craig Pickering, can impress next month.

He 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.”

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