February 20, 2006
Lueders sleds tears!Pilot emotional as brakeman's long and difficult road to Turin ends on podium
By TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun
CESANA PARIOL, Italy -- Rough, tough, gruff Pierre Lueders broke down and cried for Lascelles Brown last night.
"When I saw Pierre Lueders cry, I wanted to cry, too," said Brown, who helped win Canada's 13th medal here last night.
"To see Pierre Lueders emotional about me, I wanted to cry at the same time. It's a great day for Pierre Lueders and he cried for me. But I can't cry. It's a great day for me and I can only be smiling."
It's seldom in the sport of bobsledding the brakeman is the story and not the driver. But the silver medal Edmonton's Lueders won here last night, to go with his Nagano '98 gold, belonged to the guy in the back of the two-man bobsled, not the front.
Brown, who became a Canadian citizen only 25 days before he became a Canadian silver-medal winner at the Olympics, referred to his pilot using both first and last names with every reference in the mixed zone and the podium press conference which followed.
"It's because of Pierre Lueders that I'm sitting here talking to you. To be able to push Pierre Lueders and be a silver-medal winner ... Pierre Lueders is a phenomenal athlete and driver."
Brown said Lueders kept telling him not to worry, to just keep pushing the sled.
"I didn't want to think about it," he said of the agonizing wait for his citizenship. Once I went to Pierre Lueders and he said to 'Keep strong, it'll work out, don't worry.' "
Tonight at the medal plaza won't be the greatest day of his life, said Brown.
That day, he said, was the day he heard he was going to receive his citizenship.
"That day made my day, my month, my year and made me an Olympic medallist.
"When I heard, I said, 'Now I get to compete for Canada. Winning the silver medal is icing on the cake. The real medal was becoming a Canadian.
"I came to Canada as a Jamaican to train. I met a lady I fell in love with and married. That's when I decided that I'm training in Canada and married to a Canadian, it's best for me to be competing for Canada, where I live," said the Calgarian.
Brown reflected back on how he became a bobsledder.
"I was first in boxing but I couldn't handle all the punches. I'd seen Cool Runnings. That's when I first knew about bobsledding," he said of the movie about the Jamaican bobsled team at the Calgary '88 Olympics.
"It's a long road he took to get here. That's why I was emotional," said Lueders. "It just that it wasn't a normal road to get here. A couple weeks ago I didn't have a brakeman. Back home for Christmas, I kept thinking I might have to drive him to the airport in St. Moritz to fly home and watch the Olympics from there."
In the mixed zone Lueders was asked if we saw - what we thought we saw, that he was crying. "No," he said.
Brown, who stood beside him, was asked the same question. "Yes," he said. "He did."
Lueders shook his head. "I'm getting old," said the 35-year old. "I'm just so happy he has his dream. He's the first Jamaican to win a medal at the Winter Olympics. And he has no idea what's he's in for tomorrow down in Turin when he gets his medal."
You get the idea Lueders is waiting for it all to sink in for Brown and can't wait for him to take his turn to cry here tonight down at the medal plaza.
"I'm looking forward to (today)," said Brown. "It'll be a life-changing day for me."
He's had a couple of those already this year.
Brown, who won a world championship with Lueders last year and the World Cup title this year in two-man, went through an ordeal which took him down to Jan. 25 when he was finally given his citizenship at a special ceremony at the Canadian embassy in Berlin.
"Winning the first medal was eight years after I started bobsleighing. This is different. It's 16 years now."
But as good a story as Lueders was here last night, Brown was the story this day as he will be tonight when receiving his medal will be an event which only could have been better if it had been the Canadian flag going up behind him and O Canada being played.
"It's been such a road to this medal, the colour doesn't matter," said Lueders.