Eurosport - Tue, 16 Feb 22:36:00 2010
Paula Walker may have qualified for the Winter Olympics by the finest of margins - but the bobsleigh driver has vowed to use her Olympic debut to muscle in on the sport's inner circle.
The 23-year-old and partner Kelly Thomas qualified GB2 for Canada by pipping Russia to tenth spot in the world rankings - crucially finishing 0.12 seconds ahead in last year's final World Cup round.
The pair will be joining World Champion Nicola Minichiello - together with brake woman Gillian Cooke - who qualified GB1 for her third Games after bouncing back from losing 80 per cent vision in her left eye.
But despite sitting second on the Team GB billing in Canada, Walker insists she'll be snapping at the double Olympian's heels when the women's bobsleigh competition begins on February 23 at the Whistler Sliding Centre.
"It is great to be joining Nicola and Gillian in Vancouver - we know them well and we will go out on the track and compete against them and there will a bit of rivalry within that," said Walker.
"As a driver I have set myself the target of getting in the top ten - I know that is a tough expectation of myself but with Kelly behind me I am confident that it is achievable.
"Moving forward we want to carry the momentum into the next four years.
"My cycle was meant to be building towards Sochi 2014 so Vancouver will very much be an experience and it will be nice to get our name about much earlier than planned.
"It is brilliant for Great Britain to have two women's bobsleigh's - that is an achievement in itself I suppose and hopefully both teams will do as well as they want to and that is all you can do."
The 1450m track in Whistler is the most demanding ever constructed for a Winter Games, with a 152m vertical drop, 16 corners and a top speed of 150km/h.
And having not set foot in a bobsleigh until after the Olympics four years ago in Turin, Walker admits she'll be calling on every aspect of her education to ensure her rapid rise doesn't come to a shuddering halt in Canada.
"I have never been to an Olympics and it is going to be an overwhelming experience and I need to keep my head on so that I get down the track in one piece," added Walker.
"We have been to Whistler twice and in total have spent about three weeks there which equates to around about 25 to 30 runs.
"It is fast track, a bit unusual, very technical but that is what will make the Olympic Games exciting. It will be fast and dangerous and it will be good to watch."