Historic fourth gold for Lange

German master Andre Lange powered smoothly to gold in the Olympic two-man bobsleigh to continue his total domination of the sport.

Eurosport

The 36-year-old Thuringia Express, who will park his sled for good after the four-man race, has now won four Olympic golds, beating the three of fellow German Meinhard Nehmer.

"If you had told me when I started 17 years ago that I would win four gold medals I would have said you were stupid," Lange, who switched to bobsleigh in 1993 after failing to make the grade in luge, said.

"There was a lot of pressure because we are also the Olympic title holders. Germany had high expectations that we would win and now of course we have."

Lange was the midway leader after Saturday's opening two runs but not by much.

Just 0.11 seconds separated him from Germany II driver Thomas Florschuetz so there was zero margin for error. But on Sunday, as he has been for most of his career, Lange was sheer perfection, driving like his sled was on rails.

With 116-kilo former sprinter Kevin Kuske, his trusty sidekick for three of his four golds, providing the legs at the start, Lange steered his gleaming blue machine imperiously through Whistler's 16 whiplash corners, taking victory with a combined time of three minutes 26.65 seconds.

During his four virtually identical slides Lange barely scraped a wall, reducing a track described as dangerous earlier in the Games and which produced several high-speed flips on Saturday, into a routine Sunday drive in the country.

After rounding Thunderbird corner and crossing the finish line a joyful Lange thumped his fists down hard on the front of his speeding sled.

Florschuetz, to his credit, ended just 0.22 seconds slower while Alexsandr Zubkov steered Russia to its first medal in the two-man discipline since 1988.

"We were just two tenths behind Lange in four runs," Florschuetz said. "We will follow his model for success and try and emulate the best."

"The sleds are unquestionably better but I would also say Andre Lange is a talented pilot and the fact he's become a multiple champion says a lot," commented Zubkov.

"I'd say 50 percent (of the success) is due to the machine, 25 percent to the start and 25 percent to the piloting."

Lange's sled was made by the Berlin-based FES research institute, which specialises in building sports equipment.

"He's very technical and he's got very, very good equipment as well. He won for a reason. He's a good driver and he's been consistent," said Canada's Jesse Lumsden, the brakeman for Canada's second sled.

Lange also used carmaker BMW's wind tunnel to measure the aerodynamic drag of his equipment.

"The Germans definitely have something going on that we don't. I hope when Andre has retired maybe he'll slip us the secret," said Steven Holcomb, pilot of the first US sled.

Lange, nicknamed the "Little Teddy Bear" by his team for his gentle nature away from the track, said he would delay the party for a while because there is still unfinished business and more record books to re-write.

He will become the first man to win three consecutive golds in the four-man if he triumphs next Saturday.

"We will celebrate a little bit, but the mission isn't over yet," Lange said.

A fifth gold on Saturday would take some beating but asked whether he is the best bobsleigh pilot ever, Lange added: "In the long history of bobsleigh, I hope others will achieve more than I have done."

Factbox on Lange:

Age: 36

Place of birth: Ilmenau, Germany

Residence: Suhl, Germany

Previous Olympic results:

2x Gold, 2006 Winter Olympics, two-man & four-man

Gold, 2002 Winter Olympics, four-man

Career achievements:

3x Gold, 2008, 2007, 2003 World Championships, two-man

5x Gold, 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2000 World Championships, four-man

2x Silver, 2009, 2001 World Championships, four-man

2x Silver, 2005, 2000 World Championships, two-man

Bronze, 2007 World Championships, four-man

Bronze, 2004 World Championships, two-man

Champion, 2007/08 World Cup, two-man

Champion, 2007/08 World Cup, two/four-man

4x Champion, 2007/08, 2003/04, 2002/03, 2000/01, four-man

Background:

One of bobsleigh’s all-time greats, Lange started competing in the sport in 1993. He had originally started in luge but at 19-years-old switched to bobsleigh.

The 36-year-old soldier is also favourite to become the first man to win three consecutive Olympic titles in the four-man bobsleigh. He plans to retire after the 2010 Games.

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