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Friday, 8 February, 2002, 16:50 GMT

Johnston driving for glory

The BBC's Tony Arnese talks to British Olympic bobsledder Lee Johnston on the eve of the Salt Lake Games.

I first met Lee Johnston in October in Lillehammer, Norway after he'd been competing in Great Britian's selection races for the Olympic team.

He was to be the man who really introduced me to the fantastic world of bobsleigh. I was out there as a BBC Bristol reporter and as an enthusiast interested in getting into the sport.

My first impression of this big man - he has a 50 ins chest - was his calm manner.

Just take a second to consider what he has to do - steer a 600kg bobsleigh down a mile-long ice track with only hundreths of a second to control the bob which travels at speeds in excess of 85mph.

Thankfully he drove well and we got down in one piece, but I shall never forget the respect I had for him after experiencing the ferocity of the ride as a passenger.

Lee's talent certainly impressed the selectors as he's driving GB1 in the two-man and GB2 in the two-man in Salt Lake City.

It's his second appearance at the Games having competed in Nagano in 1998, where teammates won bronze in the four-man.

"I've just been enjoying the great facilities at Great Britain's holding camp in Calgary. Right now I'm concentrating on taking care of myself in the last few days before the big event."

Johnston has done very well to make the Olympic team given that last summer he was on crutches after an operation on his Achiles tendon.

Fortunately he made a speedy and successful recovery in less than three months, and was fit to challenge for a place in Salt Lake City.

His first race is on Saturday 16 February and he is optimistic about his chances against the favourites Germany, Switzerland and America.

"Anything is possible in the Olympic Games. It's a unique event - if lady luck's smiling you never know. I'm very happy just to be selected for team.

"A medal would be amazing, to finish in the top three a dream and in the top ten, great."

Lee's says he has no plans to retire after Salt Lake City and will continue to train for the games in Turin 2006.


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