Sochi 2014: GB bobsleigh pilot Paula Walker finds track "scary"

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter in Sochi
Paula Walker
British bobsleigh pilot Paula Walker admits to Sochi sliding track struggles.

Great Britain bobsleigh pilot Paula Walker admits she is "not in love" with the Sochi Olympic sliding track.

Walker, 27, said before Christmas that it was a "challenging" course and has struggled since in some training runs - finishing 15th, sixth and 16th.

She will be partnered by break-man Rebekah Wilson, 22, in the two-man competition which begins on Tuesday.

"The track is completely safe, but it scares me that it's a tough one to try and be fast," she told BBC Sport.

Walker made her Winter Olympic debut four years ago at the Vancouver Games where she finished 11th alongside Kelly Thomas.

"At Vancouver I was very much the newbie and it [the track] didn't scare me because I was naive but this one scares me," she said.

"The ice is cut slightly differently to when we were last here [in November], which made for a bit of a wild ride [in training]."

Walker and Wilson won World Junior Championship gold together in 2011, but Wilson subsequently decided to take a year out of the sport and focus on her physical development.

"There were a lot of girls that were very close and I knew if I wanted to make the Olympics that I needed to make a jump ahead," Wilson told BBC Sport.

Walker's road to Olympic recovery

"I moved back from Bath [GB Bobsleigh's training base] to Manchester, knuckled down in the gym, on the track and fortunately all of the hard graft really paid off.

She had been replaced in the two-man event by Gillian Cooke, but Wilson impressed selectors upon her return to the setup in 2013 and was reinstated for this year's competition.

Their best result on the circuit has been eighth position - which they have achieved on three occasions - and they have been set the target of repeating that in Sochi.

The pair missed two unofficial training runs on the track last week as Wilson came down with a virus, but Walker hopes their top-six result in the third and fourth official practice runs is cause for optimism.

"I think I'm capable of laying down four good runs," said the GB pilot.

"If you don't reach for the stars someone else will take them from you, but realism has to have a place."

Walker continued: "The fact is that in the World Cup we haven't done our medal targets, however in the Olympics absolutely anything can happen over four runs so I wouldn't like to count myself out."

The British pair will begin their Sochi Olympic campaign at 15:15 GMT on Tuesday, with the final two runs beginning the following day at 16:15 GMT.