Winter Olympics: Kiara Reddingius and Bree Walker ‘have a blast’ after nervous start to bobsleigh event
Australian pair Bree Walker and Kiara Reddingius have been left exhilarated as they performed beyond expectations over the first two runs of the two-woman bobsleigh at the Winter Olympics.
The duo improved on their training runs to be lying in 12th position at halfway, with Walker declaring: “We had a blast!“
And Reddingius reckoned they would be the toast of her little local town of Leonora in Western Australia, which had turned out in force at the local pub to watch her on TV.
Pilot Walker, who had finished fifth in the inaugural monobob event on Monday, excelled on the second run of her weaker event at the Yanqing National Sliding Centre on Friday.
Having ranked 15th of the 20 competitors after the first run, clocking 1 min 01.98 seconds, Walker was 11th quickest on the second outing in 1:02.11.
Their combined time of 2min 04.09sec left the Australians 2.04sec behind the German leaders, pilot Laura Nolte and pusher Deborah Levi, who were fastest on both runs.
The 30-year-old Reddingius reckons she had to overcome pre-race nerves at becoming an Olympian for the first time.
“I was very nervous in the first run. I was like, ’oh, I think I’ve stuffed it up.’ Then we got back up and we saw our time and saw that it was quite good.
“I was really happy and excited to go again and so excited to go and rest and recover and fight it out again tomorrow.”
Of her Leonora fan club, she smiled: “They’re all in the pub. They’re amazing. Leonora has been so supportive of my whole journey.
“They always get behind me. Apparently the whole town is in the pub and they’ll be cheering pretty loud.”
What did they think of her Olympic journey?
“It’s pretty crazy. I don’t think many people were surprised because I tend to take opportunities as they come at me,” said Reddingius.
“A lot of people would tell me that they aren’t surprised at me doing things like that. They’re just inspired by it.
“If I can inspire some young people to get out of small towns and experience the world and chase anything they think they want to do, that’s a win for me.”
Walker and Reddingius had finished either 17th or 18th in the training runs but will now be targeting a possible top-10 finish when the competition concludes with two more runs on Saturday.
“It’s been a great experience and I don’t think anyone is really surprised when I go do crazy stuff like this. Cheers to more!” smiled the former one-lap hurdler Walker.
Nolte, the 2021 world junior champion, surprised the favourites to take the halfway lead in 2:02.05.
German Mariama Jamanka, the 2018 Olympic champion who is being partnered in Beijing by Tokyo Olympic sprinter Alexandra Burghardt, was second, exactly half a second behind, while American Elana Meyers Taylor was third quickest after a start record in both runs.
Canadian-born US pilot Kaillie Humphries took gold in the monobob but was down in fifth spot.
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