Olympics big hit with Lumsden

By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency


Canadian Bobsleigh team member Jesse Lumsden reacts to finishing sixth after the third run of the two-man bobsleigh event at the Whistler Sliding Centre on Sunday, February 21, 2010. (Al CHAREST/QMI Agency)

WHISTLER, B.C. -- Pierre Lueders' Olympic career may be sliding to an end, but you get the impression Jesse Lumsden wants more.

Too bad he's got that CFL career getting in the way.

The Burlington, Ont. native and Edmonton Eskimos running back teamed with the veteran Lueders to finish fifth in the two-man bobsled event Sunday night at the Whistler Sliding Centre.

In the process, he got swallowed up by the Olympic experience.

"It's a pretty emotional thing for me, I carry my emotions on my sleeve," Lumsden said as family, friends and Canadian fans cheered him on in the background. "To be able to represent my country like this is an honour."

Though they entered the competition as Canada's second-ranked sled, after Lyndon Rush and Lascelles Brown crashed in Saturday's second heat, the Lueders-Lumsden combo reversed the roles.

They moved up from sixth to fifth in Sunday's final two runs, 0.34 seconds away from bronze.

As expected, the powerhouse Germans swept the top two spots. The team of Andre Lange and Kevin Kluske won Olympic gold for the third consecutive time. Russia One took bronze.

Lueders, a four-time Olympian and two-time medallist, admired his spunky new brakeman and marvelled at the progress he has made in less than a year in the sport. To finish top five in his Olympic debut is quite an accomplishment, especially since Lueders, a 19-year veteran of the Canadian team, has lost some of his edge.

"I'm proud of him," Lueders said. "From starting just 11 months ago to being here at the Olympics is incredible. It's amazing how he has adapted to the sport."

For the top Canadian pilot, Lyndon Rush, it was a bittersweet finish to the event in which he was considered a strong medal contender.

Nursing a bruised shoulder, Brown was given the night off to recover for the four-man event this weekend and was replaced by David Bissett. The pair moved up from 21st to 15th with a couple solid runs, which only added to Rush's frustration.

"I'm looking to the four-man because that's what's keeping me sane," said Rush, who believes that if they hadn't crashed he and Brown could have challenged the Germans for a medal.

"I'm pretty fortunate I have another opportunity."

Given the way Brown had been pushing, a medal was a definite possibility.

"You can cash or crash," said Rush, who will pilot the sled with Bissett, Brown and Chris Le Bihan in the four-man. "I crashed."

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca

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