Team GB Exclusive: Lewis-Francis looking for Olympic history in Pyeongchang
Bobsleigh

Team GB Exclusive: Lewis-Francis looking for Olympic history in Pyeongchang

09 October 2015 / 14:18

Mark Lewis-Francis claims to have rediscovered his love for sport - and now he wants another Olympic gold 14 years after his first.marklewisfrancis

Lewis-Francis will always be remembered for anchoring Great Britain to 4x100m glory at the Athens Olympics, the 21-year old holding off Maurice Greene in a photo finish to deliver one of the most memorable successes of the Games.

But he missed the 2008 and 2012 Olympics through injury and is now targeting the next Winter Games in Pyeongchang and a bit of sporting history too.

American Eddie Eagan is the only athlete to win at both summer and winter Games in different events - claiming the light heavyweight boxing title in 1920 and gold in the four-man bobsleigh at the 1932 Games in Lake Placid.

Indeed there have only been four other medallists at both the summer and winter Games.

Lewis-Francis, now 33, hasn't given up hope of being part of next year's Games in Rio but with emerging young sprinters such as Adam Gemili, Zharnel Hughes, CJ Ujah and Ojie Edoburun coming through the ranks, acknowledges his best chance might come in South Korea.

Fellow sprinter Craig Pickering was due to compete in Sochi before suffering a slipped disc in training just ten days before the Games while Olympic rowing legend Sir Steve Redgrave was also once part of the bobsleigh team, after winning his second gold in Seoul.

Allyn Condon was the last British summer and winter Olympian, competing in the 4x100m at the 2000 Sydney Games and finishing 17th in the four-man bobsleigh ten years later in Vancouver.

"It's a great experience I almost feel as though I'm 14 again starting a brand new sport, It's a new lease of life after the injuries and the devastation and disappointments; you get fed up with it," said Lewis-Francis, who must certainly be credited for getting back up from a series of knockdowns that would have others walking away from their sport.

"Jumping into a different sport is so refreshing, I feel a brand new athlete. As a sprinter you think that you can jump into any sport and do well but I jumped into bobsleigh and it's the complete opposite, I'm starting from the bottom and working my way up.

"I'm going in there blind and keeping a whole positive mental attitude to the situation and moving forward.”

Lewis-Francis - a former world junior champion - has certainly enjoyed plenty of frustrations since his career high in Athens. Injuries cost him his lottery funding and it's now five years since he last made the podium, with 100m silvers at the European Championships and Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

But despite a succession of disappointments, he has never stopped believing that his career would be remembered for more than just one famous night in Athens.

"My successes have come from team sports, the 4x100m relay takes a bit of pressure off myself as an individual athlete, to bring my energy into a team and to help push the guys that tenth or thousands of a second quicker, I believe I'm capable of doing that," he added.

"Once I'm on the start line I'm fully focused and I'd like to think everyone can feel the same energy."

John Jackson's self-styled 'meatwagon' was one of the success stories of the Sochi Olympics, finishing in fifth place, just 0.11 seconds off a bronze - a remarkable achievement considering their talismanic driver defied doctors just to make the start line.

"I've done a couple of pushes with the lads already and where I am at the moment is shocking people," added Lewis-Francis

"I've just stepped into the sport and I'm moving to where I need to be, I wouldn't do it if I didn't think I could become one of the best in the world.

"Training and pushing with these guys there is no doubt we can be the best in the world, there's no doubt we can go to the World Champs and achieve a medal, or go to the Olympics and achieve a medal, there is no point in thinking we couldn't.”

By Shona Duthie, Sportsbeat

Sportsbeat 2015