Winter Olympics: WA’s Kiara Reddingius primed for bobsleigh challenge in Beijing
Leonora-raised Winter Olympian Kiara Reddingius launches her medal aspirations on Friday, alongside pilot Bree Walker, with the official heats of the two-woman bobsleigh.
Heat 1 at Beijing’s Yanqing National Sliding Centre is scheduled for 8pm.
Reddingius and Walker arrived in Beijing having chalked up two top-10 finishes at previous competitions.
But they had a rough start to Tuesday’s practice heats, ranking 18th.
Reddingius is a former nationally-ranked heptathlete who switched to winter sports less than a year ago.
Victoria-born Walker followed a similar path to winter sports — excelling as a 400m hurdler and earning a US sporting scholarship to the University of Arkansas before injuries took a toll.
She made her bobsleigh debut six years ago in Canada.
As Reddingius anxiously awaits her official competition debut, Walker resumes full of confidence after earlier this week recording Australia’s best-ever bobsleigh result — finishing fifth in the bobsleigh monobob.
Australia had previously never had a top-10 Olympic bobsleigh finish.
The US went first and second in that event, through Kaillie Humphries (gold) and Elana Meyers Taylor (silver), with Canada’s Christine de Bruin taking bronze.
For Reddingius, a place at the Olympics was a culmination of hard work and financial hardship.
It also made up for the disappointment of missing Commonwealth Games selection, as a heptathlete, four years earlier.
“When my team had to go to America, I couldn’t afford to go, so I stayed in Europe,” she said.
“That was when the Australian Federation realised it might be a good pairing to have Bree and I slide together.
“After only two training runs together, we finished seventh in the World Cup race in December — the best ever result by an Australian team.
“After that race, I was quite confident in my (Olympic) selection if a two-woman sled was to qualify.
“My (Olympic selection) response was quite measured, I didn’t allow myself to get too excited.
“I narrowly missed selection for the Commonwealth Games team in 2018, which was quite hard for me, so I wanted to wait until it was officially announced.
”I am just so thankful for all the nations across the world in the bobsleigh community that helped me significantly to learn technique and give me guidance on what I needed to do, particularly the Dutch and Canadian teams.”
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