On the wild slide!

BOB-A-JOB: Paula Walker has got over her fears to get in to the GB ladies bobsleigh team

BOB-A-JOB: Paula Walker has got over her fears to get in to the GB ladies bobsleigh team

First published in Sport by

PAULA Walker's introduction to the bobsleigh was memorable for all the wrong reasons - she was left terrified, battered and bruised and vowed never to climb in one again.

As far as she was concerned, her bobsleigh days were over and soon as they had begun, such was the bad experience of her inaugural run.

The Lance Corporal in the Royal Signals was only doing it as a favour' to help out one of her army colleagues out and bitten by the bug' she certainly wasn't.

"I was absolutely terrified," remembers the 20-year-old from Blackburn.

"It was one of the worst experiences of my life.

"I was left black and blue and I thought there is no way I am going to do that again.

"A friend of mine basically begged me to train with her because her partner was missing.

"So next thing I knew I was speeding down the run being thrown all over the place. It was a complete nightmare."

Hurtling down an icy slope at 90mph was never something that appealed to Paula, a former pupil at St Bedes High School. She wasn't even much of a snow person.

"I had no interest in the bobsleigh whatsoever," admitted Paula. "I hadn't even been skiing before."

Paula could have been forgiven for walking away from the bobsleigh forever but how things from changed.

For far from waving goodbye to the Formula One of ice', Paula is now a member of the Great Britain bobsleigh team and flies out to America later this week to prepare for the World Cup which begins in Calgary in Canada at the end of the month.

Paula will compete in the two man bob as brakeswoman where she is responsible for giving her team a blistering start before keeping her head down while her team-mate steers.

"I really thought that I wasn't going to go anywhere near a bobsleigh again but I partnered Jackie Davies and the run was a lot smoother and I was persuaded to enter trials for the Great Britain team."

Given that many former athletes make the transition from the running track to the bobsleigh run, Paula had the perfect sporting background.

For the sport is often described as needing the power and co-ordination of an international rugby pack negotiating the high hurdles - in scrum formation - on ice!

As a rugby playing heptathlete, Paula is ideally suited.

"I have always been sporty and always knew I would be involved in sport but I never in my wildest dreams thought it would be the bobsleigh.

"But the secret of the bobsleigh is power, pace and speed. Thanks to my background in rugby and athletics I have had the perfect training.

"The 200m and shot put were always my two favourite disciplines in the heptathlon," added Paula who used to train with Blackburn Harriers Athletics Club.

"So the explosive power of the sprints and the strength needed in the shot put have certainly worked to my advantage."

However, despite her raw talents, Paula flies out to the World Cup as a complete novice.

For apart from the Army Championships, she has never taking part in a big competition.

"I'm really looking forward to the World Cup series but I am a little nervous.

"Apart from a few Army events, I have never raced competitively.

"So this is really a case of being thrown in at the deep end."

The World Cup series begins in Calgary on November 27 with two further rounds in the US before moving to Europe in the New Year.

There is also the small matter of the World Championships in St Moritz in February.

"I can't quite believe I am preparing to take part in these major events.

"It's quite incredible when you consider the training facilities we have and we only get to use the ice a couple of months a year.

Paula and the rest of the Great Britain squad concentrate much of their training at Bath University where a specially made bobsleigh run has been built.

She trains alongside Kristan Bromley, the skeleton bob Olympian from Rossendale.

In fact, the company run by Bromley and his brother Richard, are designing the runners that will hopefully guide them to success during the forthcoming season.

While her immediate aim is to do well in the forthcoming World Cup, her ultimate aim is the next Winter Olympics.

She said: "The Winter Olympics has to be my big goal.

"I am only 20 now and they are only four years away so hopefully I can stay in the team and continue to impress the coaches."

However, funding could be the main key as to whether she carries on in the sport.

She said: "Funding is the main obstacles. I get some kit off Adidas but no training gear or funding for travel and accommodation.

"It would be brilliant if there were any local companies out there who will like to help with my funding."

Anyone who thinks they could help should contact Paula Walker on 07923 203875.

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