Baines determined to seize surprise two-man chance
February 15, 2014 09:48 am
John Baines will get two chances to enjoy his debut Olympic experience - and he's determined to make them count.
Baines secured selection for Great Britain's second string four-man bobsleigh crew last month and will now race alongside pilot Lamin Deen in this weekend's two-man event, which starts on Sunday.
Baines was drafted in following an injury to Craig Pickering, the former Olympic sprinter who had been Deen's first-choice brakeman until a late back injury derailed his ambitions of competing at both the summer and winter Games.
He landed in Sochi earlier this week after being based at the team preparation camp in Konigsee, Germany and admits to being a bit wide-eyed about the surroundings he finds himself in.
"The last week has been a bit of a whirlwind. We had the news about Craig, then the news I was selected for the two man and now we've arrived at the Olympics and everything is just massive," he said.
"Obviously the Olympics are every athletes' pinnacle but it's only when you get here that you realise what a huge event it is, everything is bigger and better than anywhere else we compete.
"It's a real honour to do the two man again, though it's obviously not the ideal circumstances. I'm in the best shape. I'm faster and stronger than ever before and training couldn't have gone any better. I feel I'm a world class athlete now rather than just a good athlete."
But Baines, who fractured his elbow earlier this season, admitted getting the chance to compete in the two-man at the expense of Pickering was bittersweet.
"Spending so much time with Craig this season it's been really tough to see his Olympic dream shattered so cruelly," he added.
"He's been to the Games before and was a real inspirational character in our team. It's been a hard week having to say goodbye but he's been in constant contact, sending supportive messages and texts and that's the measure of the guy he is.
"I just hope to make him proud with Lamin in the two man and with the other guys in the four man."
Baines recovered from an elbow injury pre Christmas to earn his Olympic selection and credits his Royal Air Force colleagues for playing a key role in helping establish himself in the team.
And he hopes this won't be his only Olympic experience.
"Going to the Games has always been my dream and now I'm finally here, I can say hard work and determination really does pay off," he added.
"When I got to the age of 20 I realised that I probably would never get to the Games as a sprinter and that is when I joined the RAF. But this shows you should never give up on your dreams and you should keep training hard.
"This is a great team to be involved with and we are only going to get better."
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