Cooke looking to avenge Olympic disappointment in Sochi

04 October 2013 / 12:27

Gillian Cooke doesn't not have fond memories of her Olympic debut in Vancouver - but that just makes her more determined for Sochi.

Cooke and Nicola Minichiello arrived at the last Games as women's bobsleigh world champions but failed to complete their runs as injuries conspired against them at exactly the wrong moment in a sport where timing is everything.

But Cooke, who celebrated her 31st birthday this week, is determined for a second crack behind driver Paula Walker, the former world junior champion and new British number one, following Minichiello's retirement.

British team officials are currently holding their selection trials in Lativa but Kelly Denyer, who substituted for the injured Cooke during last year's World Cup, is also among eight fighting for the one slot in Great Britain's first choice sled.

“Coming into Vancouver and being the world champions meant there was so much pressure,” admitted Cooke. 

“Everybody just expected us to walk off with the gold medal. 

“There’s not that real pressure this time around, so it’s got a real different feel to it and a different focus. 

“We’ve been working our way up the rankings and had some really good results in the last year.

“You get into a routine with one driver. You get into a rhythm that you’re used to and it’s not necessarily the same when you move onto a new partnership.

“A lot of it is learning about the other person and knowing what makes them tick, how they like to operate and just getting a feel for each other. 

“Paula’s a much more laid back character than Nicola and I've had to adapt to that." 

However, rising star Denyer has her sights firmly set on partnering Walker to glory next February. And the 23-year-old believes the sport - boosted by increased lottery funding - has never been stronger.

“My aim is too just get on Paula’s sled,” she said. “Then, hopefully, we can focus on beating everyone else.

“I know our squads the strongest it’s ever been, partly because of the facilities and support we have. We’re getting more information back on how we’re improving and I think that shows in the results from last year."

© Sportsbeat 2013