After arriving back in Britain from the Winter Olympics, Allyn Condon from Great Britain’s four-man bobsleigh team spoke to JMU Journalism about crashing out of the competition.
The former Commonwealth gold medallist from Runcorn was brakeman for the team that crashed on the fourth from last corner at the Whistler Sliding Track in British Columbia... the same track which claimed the life of Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili
“I’ve got very mixed emotions when it comes to the crash,” said Allyn. “Obviously I wanted us to do well because we had been training for this event for a long time, but it will probably surprise most people that it was the highlight of the Olympics for me.
“We had discussed crashing before we went over there, so we knew what could happen and we were fully prepared. It was my first crash, which is probably what makes it so memorable and all my memories seem to fit around it. It’s a strange feeling just sliding along on your head and shoulder when there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Don Krone from the Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation had already stated
that they were working on making the track safer as several team captains
had concerns about some of the corners.
In total, six teams crashed on the same corner of the Whistler Sliding Track,
with five teams, including Switzerland and Netherlands, withdrawing from
The course, which consisted of 16 corners, had a vertical drop of 152m and was 1,450m in length.
The crash meant it was always going to be a tall order to compete. Olympic rules meant that Team GB wouldn't be disqualified because they crossed the finish line, even if the sled was on its side.
The 35-year-old said: “I think it’s because it was a major thing that happened, and although it was a bad result for us, it will be the main thing that I remember in years to come.”
The tragic death of Nodar Kumaritashvili during a practice run meant the Vancouver Games started under a cloud, and the four-man bobsleigh took place on the same track.
“We flew in the day that it happened, and you could sense the horrible feeling around the place. We just had to see it for what it was, get on with things and remember we were there to do a job,” said Condon.
The four-man bobsleigh is all about teamwork; the pilot is responsible for cornering whilst the brakeman is needed for the all-important push off and braking after crossing the finish line. The two in the middle are needed to balance the weight and reduce drag.
Merseyside’s own Winter Olympian Condon, whose family live in Huyton, is only the second British athlete to represent his country in both sets of games. Condon, who is a big Liverpool supporter, competed as a sprinter in the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
“It’s an anti-climax to be honest with you,” said Allyn on returning from Canada. ”We spent the last four weeks in preparation for the Games, and not really thinking about anything else, and then to have that bad result, to come home on the back of that result is disappointing.”
Condon found out his fiancée was pregnant while he was in Vancouver and says he will “dust himself down” before seeing what the future holds for his Olympic ambitions.
By Sean Fell
More JMU Journalism stories
Team GB were one of six teams to crash on corner 12; YouTube: The four-man team cross the finish line
"It was my first crash so it was probably the highlight of my Winter Olympics"