Walker and Jackson putting love on ice aside

16 February 2014 / 06:23

Paula Walker might be one half of the latest Winter Olympic love story but she couldn't be more different to the typecast story of romance on ice.

The winter Games have rich history of sporting couples. Torvill and Dean created a virtual cottage industry around their will they, won't they relationship - even winning their famous gold on Valentine's Day.

But Walker and John Jackson, Britain's first choice women's and men's bobsleigh drivers, couldn't be more different.

Then again it takes a different mindset to guide a careering sled down a twisting turning ice track at speeds of 140mph, with just your senses, reactions and memory for guidance.

"All I know, is that if Paula wins a medal and I don’t, I will never hear the end of it," jokes Jackson.

Former world junior champion Walker is making her second Olympic appearance in Sochi, having finished 11th four years ago.

She will partner Rebekah Wilson in the women's event - which starts on Monday - but admits she'd like to take charge of Jackson's four-man crew, considered a medal contender after their fifth place at last year's World Championships and recent World Cup silver in Lake Placid.

"I think I’d be really good at it. I’ll just take his crew and then really give him a run for his money," she joked.

"We’re super competitive and obviously we compete against the rest of the world but most of all we compete against each other. 

"We are also super proud of each other and if John or I bring a medal back and the other one doesn’t, it would still be hung up in the house. If it’s his I’ll just pretend that it's mine.

"The Olympics has put a lot of stress on our relationship and even when we’re travelling and competing to find a night away from the team is hard sometimes. 

"We try and make the best of it and when we can get five minutes with each other we’ll just chill out, even if it’s just a coffee or a quick dinner away from the team, they probably want to get rid of us as well!"

Walker, whose one competitive concession to her partner is she allows him to push the shopping trolley around the supermarket, admits her admiration for the determination Jackson has shown to get himself fit for Sochi, undergoing pioneering surgery after rupturing his Achilles and defying medical convention with the speed of his recovery.

"No-one will be cheering John on louder than me, though I do find it very difficult to watch him compete," adds Walker.

"He did a great job bringing himself back up to fitness and now Sochi’s a clean start and it's really exciting."

Meanwhile, Walker has four top tens at World Cup on her record this season and believes Morris - her sled nickname - is only going to get quicker.

Though she arrived in Sochi admitting she was still waiting to click with the track.

"I was at the test event here last year but I really struggled. I'm working hard to tell myself everything will be okay because normally I'm a fast learner," she added.

"Vancouver was a very hard track but I quickly mastered it. I need to find the inner vibe you need to get accustomed to a track.

"We've got him a target of top eight but on this track it's going to be tough. My last runs here were a bit of a wild ride but until I've done my practice runs I've no realistic placement for myself."

But what of the post Olympic future for Walker and Jackson? Wedding bells? Perhaps a family with a view to starting a bobsleigh crew of their own?

"The year after the Games everything chills out and we’ll focus on actually trying to be normal," adds Jackson.

"Once we’ve got the Games out the way we’ve already had a chat about potentially starting a family together. I’ve kid kids of my own from a previous relationship but we want our own little sprogs running around making a mess and doing all the stuff kids do. We have plans but we’ll see what happens."

From James Toney, Sportsbeat, in Sochi

© Sportsbeat 2014