Sledders slip to bronze in blink of eye

By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency


Canada's Lyndon Rush, is comforted by teammates Helen Upperton after the men's four-man bobsled took the bronze medal at the Whistler Sliding Centre Saturday, Feb. 27, 2010. (AL CHAREST/QMI AGENCY)

WHISTLER — In the blink of an eye, four Canadian men painfully learned on Saturday just how quickly a medal can change colour.

Pilot Lyndon Rush and his teammates earned bronze in the men’s four-man bobsled at the Whistler Sliding Centre, but finished just an agonizing 1/100th of a second behind two-time defending Olympic champion Andre Lange of Germany, who won silver.

“That’s an expensive hundredth of a second,” said Rush, referring to the money the Canadian Olympic Committee pays as a reward to its medallists. “That’s $5,000. Son of a gun.

“(When we crossed the finish), it wasn’t triumphant. At that point I was pretty mad. Yeah, we won an Olympic bronze, but when you come up short in your last heat, you are mad. It’s mixed feelings, bittersweet for sure.”

The COC shells out $20,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze and it would be impossible for Rush and Co. to lose the cash by a smaller margin.

But neither the Germans or Canadians were a threat to Stephen Holcomb, as the American pilot ran away with the gold from start to finish of the four-heat event. It was just the latest kick-butt moment for the U.S. at these Games, a trend Canadians sure hope doesn’t continue on the hockey rink Sunday.

“They embarrassed the field,” Rush said of the American sled known as the Night Train. “They showed up in our backyard and it’s kind of the theme of the Olympic Games. The Americans have shown up in Canada and whipped us.”

The track here has been a source of controversy throughout the Games in all three sliding disciplines. But Rush is convinced the advantage of racing over ice he knew so well provided a huge edge.

Canada tied Germany with the most bobsled medals in these Games at three, thanks to the gold-silver finish of the Canadian women in the two-man event.

“This is our backyard,” said Rush, who shared the medal with brakeman Lascelles Brown and crewmen David Bissett and Chris Le Bihan. “If these Games were in Germany, you wouldn’t see me here, or (Holcomb) here.

“(Lange) is that good. It’s frustrating how good he is.”

The bronze was Canada’s first medal in four-man since the crew led by Vic Emery won gold in 1964 at Innsbruck. The Canada-2 sled led by veteran Pierre Lueders finished in fifth place.

“To be at five Olympics in a row, that’s pretty special,” said Lueders, a two-time Olympic medallist who is likely to retire now. “That last run on the track, I just wanted to get (the sled) clean down the track and not do anything crazy.”

Teammate Jesse Lumsden can return to his day job as a running back for the Edmonton Eskimos now, but the CFL star received rave reviews for his Olympic debut just 11 months after taking up the sport.

rob.longley@sunmedia.

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