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Good news for the 2014 British Bobsleigh team…. but special podium moment missed

The 2014 Olympics back in Sochi seems such a long while ago and memories fade of winners and losers. The British Bobsleigh team consisting of John Jackson, Bruce Tasker, Joel Fearon and Stuart Benson finished in fifth position with a Latvian, an American and two Russian teams in front of them.

Since then a battle has been going on as firstly one Russian team and now the second team has been disqualified meaning that the British  team have been upgraded to the bronze medal position. This must be absolutely bitter sweet for the members of that team. They must be overjoyed to have had their achievement recognised and that the athletes taking drugs had been disqualified. However, all athletes must dream of that podium finish, standing in front of a crowd and being able to savour their moment of glory. The British team must feel completely cheated of that moment, the moment that they trained for and gave everything for.

The athletes will be allowed to decide where they would like to be awarded the medals, with a presentation at the next Winter Olympics in 2022 a possibility. However, with around three years to go until those Games it’s possible that a presentation could be made elsewhere at an earlier date.

Sport should always be drug free and it is commendable when these cheats are found out and the true winners are rewarded.

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Disappointment drives Laura Deas on to success..

Before the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang not many people had heard of Laura Deas. Laura was the second British athlete to compete in the brutal sport of skeleton. Everyone has heard of Lizzy Yarnold who was trying to defend her 2014 Olympic title. but not so much of Laura.

Remarkably these two athletes have very similar life stories and many events almost bind them together. Lizzy and Laura are only separated in age by three months. Both girls are outstanding athletes in their own right. Lizzy was a heptathlete and Laura a Tetrathlete (riding, shooting, running and swimming). Both girls had a love of horses. Laura Deas has said that competing in eventing competitions actually gave her the courage to take up skeleton. She knew the sport was dangerous but so was eventing and she had to think with split second reactions in both.

Laura Deas and Lizzy Yarnold were both recruited into skeleton by a sporting scheme called Girls4Gold and this gave them their chance. At this point their skeleton careers went at a very different pace. Whilst Lizzy Yarnold  quickly won titles and was in fact only the second athlete in the sport of skeleton to hold European, World Cup and Olympic medals, Laura Deas had failed to make the 2014 team for the Sochi Olympics. Laura carried on working really hard and in her first World Cup season she came a creditable fifth. Deas claims that the disappointment of missing out on a place in Sochi drove her on to achieve better results the following year. Deas won a silver medal in Calgary at only her second World Cup race. At the beginning of the 2015/16 seasons she raced to a gold medal at the same venue in Germany where she had, ironically, failed to qualify for the Sochi Olympics.

Since that season Deas has proved herself to be one of the most consistent athletes on the track, finishing in the top ten of the World Cup races in each campaign and actually collecting five medals along the way. The 2018 Olympics was always going to be tough with Lizzy Yarnold trying to replicate her win in Sochi.

The British team were confident of a good result in the skeleton and the hopes of the nation rested on Lizzy Yarnold. Laura Deas had plans of her own and was determined to win her own battle. Lizzy Yarnold did secure the gold medal but Laura Deas took the bronze medal making it two medals for Great Britain in the women’s skeleton.

What remarkable coincidences. Both women have similar yet different stories. Lizzy Yarnold had the gold medal to spur her on. Laura Deas had disappointment to drive her on. Both girls achieved so much but it does go to show that to be at the top you need something to inspire you and for each of us that inspiration can be so different.

We look forward to following the results of both these girls in the future and wish them both lots of success.

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Last place but still dancing his way into everyone’s hearts…

Akwasi Frimpong is a Dutch-Ghanaian sprinter, bobsledder and skeleton athlete who has stolen many hearts at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Frimpong spent the first 8 years of his life living in Ghana with his grandmother. It was then that he moved to live with his mother Esther Amoako, who was a gospel singer in the Netherlands. It took many years for Frimpong to be given Dutch citizenship. As an illegal immigrant it was hard to find a school that would take him. He was eventually given a chance at the Johan Cruyff College. It was whilst at school that Frimpong began sprinting and was in fact crowned Dutch junior national champion at the 200 metres. He was determined that he wanted to represent the Netherlands at the Olympics and trained hard to pursue his dream of competing in the 2012 Olympics. Before he was granted citizenship Frimpong wouldn’t compete internationally as he was concerned that he wouldn’t be allowed back into the country. His 2012 Olympic dream was shattered as with an injury he failed to meet the qualifying times and to make the Dutch team.

The Dutch bobsleigh coaches were looking for sprinters and they took note of Frimpong. After the Dutch bobsleigh team noticed him he tried out as brakeman for the four man bob sleigh team. He did compete in the two man bob but again didn’t make the Dutch Winter Olympic team in 2014. When time came to qualify for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Frimpong just missed the final team selection for the Dutch bobsled team. So he was urged to think about skeleton instead. The sport is essentially bobsled’s cousin, but athletes compete alone instead of with a team. It requires immense strength and speed for the initial moments when the athlete runs along the side of their sled before hopping on and sliding up to 90 miles per hour down the track, their chins resting just above the ice. A slow start can derail the entire competition.

After his disappointment at not making the team, Frimpong did in fact, then decide to change sports and took up the skeleton seriously. Having failed to make the Dutch Olympic team he decided he wanted to represent Ghana but this time in the skeleton. This came with its own problems as before people can compete internationally their home country needs to have a Federation registered with its own government. With the help of a friend Frimpong set up the Bobsled and Skeleton Federation-Ghana (BSF). Frimpong is the only athlete representing Ghana in Pyeongchang, and only the second Ghanaian to ever participate in the Winter Olympics. As the only Ghanaian athlete Frimpong had the huge honour of carrying his national flag at the Opening ceremony at the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics.

On February 15, the 32-year-old  sprinted beside a small, brakeless sled, then flattened himself onto it and plunged headfirst down a frozen track of ice, becoming the first ever West African to compete in the sport of skeleton at the Olympic level. He finished 30th in both runs. As much as this is a huge achievement and one that in the past films have been made about this isn’t the only reason that Frimpong became a firm favourite with the crowd. At the end of every run Frimpong danced his way off the track and it is this that has won him lots of supporters and social media followers. This dance routine is guaranteed to make you smile. Click here to watch him

We all know how important it is to win but for Frimpong it isn’t just about that, it is about his whole journey, determination and what he has done to achieve his own goals but shows how important it is just to have fun along the way. Frimpong’s goal is “proving that anything is possible through hard work by achieving Olympic glory!”

 

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Good News can come to those who wait…..

At The Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014  Elise Christie received death threats and online abuse after a collision with a South Korean skater. Despite being hotly tipped for a gold medal she was disqualified in all three events. Her heartbreak was clear to see in her interviews immediately after those disqualifications.

Christie was originally a figure skater but took up speed skating when she was about 12. Despite being crowned overall speed skating World Champion in 2017 Christie was determined to put Sochi behind her and go for gold at Pyeongchang.

Her first event yet again brought heartbreak  as she crashed out of the Women’s 500 metre final. After the event Christie once again appeared in tears. Immediately after her crash she put a message on twitter

“I’m heartbroken with the result, but I also know what happened wasn’t in my control! I worked so hard for the 500, but this time round it wasn’t meant to be, 4 years to prepare to be a 500 Olympic champion, but for now onwards and upwards to the next event. Thanks for all the 💜”

      

Whether it was anything to do with her online abuse last time but Christie has stopped messaging on social media sites

Hey guys im going to be a bit quieter over the next few days so I can focus on my preparation! Especially for the 1000m coming up! Thanks so much for all the support it’s overwhelming! I promise to do my best! Sending you guys all my love 💜

Elise Christie had messages of motivation from Jessica Ennis-Hill amongst others

Sport is so cruel sometimes and I know you must be devastated. But you’ve absolutely got the strength and talent to come back so much stronger, it’s not over by any means and we are all rooting for you. Jess x

There are always two ways of dealing with things that go wrong . The first is to give up and the second is to learn from those things and move forward. As I am writing this I do not know if success will go Elise Christie’s way but if determination and perseverance are anything to go by she will win her medal. We, at Banana Crumble, will be cheering on Elise Christie in her quest for gold and hope that she will be remembered for her skill and success rather than for the tears. If tears are her legacy then let’s hope they can be tears of joy this time!!