Jackson in good place at halfway stage of four-man bobsleigh
February 22, 2014 20:19 pm
John Jackson believes his first-choice British four-man bobsleigh crew are still in contention for a strong finish after a solid start to their Olympic campaign in Sochi.
Jackson, alongside Bruce Tasker, Joel Fearon and Stuart Benson, finished fifth at last year's World Championships and claimed another top five a few weeks later at the Olympic test event.
Despite rupturing his Achilles last summer - an injury that required pioneering surgery to put his Olympic campaign back in track - Jackson and his sled, variously dubbed the 'meat wagon' and 'George Four-man', have continued to impress in recent weeks.
They won Britain's first World Cup four-man medal in 16 years with a silver in Lake Placid and finished second at the recent European Championships.
They ranked tenth quickest on their opening run at the Sanki Sliding Centre but were second fastest on their second attempt.
It means they sit seventh ahead of two concluding runs on Sunday, just 0.18 seconds behind Germany's Maximilian Ardnt in bronze. Russia's Alexander Zubkov, who won two-man gold and knows this track better than anyone, leads the field ahead of Latvia's Oskars Melbardis.
But Jackson insists there is cause for cautious confidence.
"We're still only three tenths of a second off the lead and we're good," he said.
"Are we out of the medals? We'll just have to see how the next two runs go. It's going to be good racing because it's just hundredths of a second in it.
"I'm in the best shape I can be but am I in the shape I'd like to be? I'd like to be running two tenths quicker but I don't think I could ask for anything more.
"In the first run we made a couple of little mistakes and second run we just worked on those to try and tidy things up, we almost had identical times so I think that's what's pulled us up the order. We're within easy reach of the top five or four."
Jackson had the disadvantage of starting 12th on the first run because his world ranking had slipped, his injury problems preventing the sled from being at its best in the early season.
It meant rivals crews had the best of the ice conditions, while he had to master a highly-technical track that had become rutted by the early starters.
And the dangers of this sport, in which sled reach top speeds nearly 90mph, were underlined when a strongly-fancied Canadian team tipped and skidded down the track just after Jackson had completed his second run.
"The first few guys down are really quick and then the ice starts to degrade and everything gets slower," added Jackson
"The further back in the pack we are, the more it costs us, but we are pulling ourselves back into the top places."
© Sportsbeat 2014