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Monday, 18 February, 2002, 20:20 GMT

The luck of the Brits

Olympic athletes are known to be superstitious and Team GB are no different, reports BBC Sport Online's Anna Thompson.

Whether it is wearing a lucky charm, having a race-day ritual or simply saying a prayer - Britain's Winter Olympians are a superstitious lot.

A number of the Team GB athletes believe they will perform better with the aid of divine inspiration or if they get ready in a certain way.

Britain's top skier Alain Baxter wears lucky long-johns under his race suit.

He also used to have a lucky charm around his neck - until younger half-brother Noel broke it by accident.

Baxter told BBC Sport Online: "I've been wearing the long-johns since Nagano. They are so comfy that I always make sure I'm wearing them for a big race."

Luger Mark Hatton has to have a cup of tea on the morning of the race.

He then taps his spiked gloves on the bench and the door frame and always sits in the same place in the start hut.

Just before he sets off down the track, Hatton - who finished 25th in the Olympics - looks to the heavens and says a little prayer.

He said: "I am very superstitious. I don't like new pieces of kit or clothing and I like to do things in a particular way on race day.

"I also say a little prayer because there is no harm in asking for a little help from up above."

Slalom skier Emma Carrick-Anderson used to always wear lucky ear-rings when she raced - but then she lost them.

And the GB women's bobsleigh teams have become very attached to their unofficial mascot, Paddington Bear.

He has been to training with them, as well on site seeing visits to Calgary and Salt Lake City.

Britain's best chance of a medal rests with skeleton slider Alex Coomber.

But she said she was not superstitious.

She said: "I don't believe in any of that. There is no point in being superstitious."

However she does admit to preparing for a race the same way every time.

Coomber added: "I clean my helmet, check my spikes and then hang up my suit in that order. It simply means everything that needs to be done is done and I don't forget anything."

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