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WINTER OLYMPICS: Blackburn star Paula ready for her glory slide
8:26am Tuesday 18th February 2014 in Sport
Paula Walker has hailed her chemistry with brakewoman Bex Wilson as key to her Olympic bobsleigh challenge in Sochi.
Blackburn’s former world junior champion has now completed six official practice runs at the Sanki Sliding Centre alongside brakewoman Wilson and can’t wait for the competition to start today.
Four years ago, on her Olympic debut, she finished 11th with all the expectations on team-mate Nicola Minichiello, who arrived at the Games as the reigning world champion.
This time Walker is Great Britain’s only woman driver and has been given a stiff target with a top-eight finish to secure future funding, which could in turn also decide her plans in the sport.
British Bobsleigh held an extensive process to decide who would sit behind Walker in Sochi, with Kelly Denyer and former world champion Gillian Cooke among those trialled before Wilson, 22, was given the nod.
“Bex has got great trust in me and to know she’s the best physically in our team and has the faith in me to keep her safe, really puts me in a positive frame of mind,” added Walker, who nicknames her sled Morris.
“I don’t think I have to prove myself to her, I know she’s got my back no matter what and I’m chuffed to have her on my team.
“It would have been nice to be settled, but I also wanted to know who was going to be the best for my team and that’s why we tried out so many different combinations.
“Gillian is a fantastic athlete and was with me for two years and it was always going to be hard to get her out of that seat.
“I wanted to make sure that Bex was absolutely the best person and we gave everyone a fair opportunity because it’s the Olympics and everyone deserved a shot to prove themselves.”
Walker, 27, is keeping her options open about her post-Games plans – though they say it takes 10 years to become a world-class driver and the 2018 would mark a decade in the sport.
“I don’t know whether my knees can hang out,” she added. “I’m not thinking of 2018, I don’t know whether I would last physically , but I certainly can’t rule it out.
“If I’m seeking to do better than here I might get drawn in again. If I’m happy with how I do, then I might think differently.”