Big brake for Brown

TODD SAELHOF -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:27 PM ET

Canada's bobsled team got the break -- and brakeman -- it was looking for Thursday when Olympic hopeful and Calgary resident Lascelles Brown was granted citizenship.

The Jamaican native was named a Canadian just days before the Jan. 29 deadline to declare the list of bobsledders for the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy.

"It feels great -- I keep laughing, I can't believe it," said the 31-year-old Brown from Switzerland where he's joined Canada's entry at a World Cup event.

"When the minister called me, it made my day, my week, my month, my year ..."

And it could make for Canadian gold in the bobsleigh at Turin now that Brown is officially a citizen.

Veteran pilot Pierre Lueders of Edmonton has been heating up the track in two-man competition this year with Brown as his brakeman, making the duo a legitimate Olympic medal threat.

And the Jamaican-born athlete has boosted Canada's chances in the four-man bobsleigh, also led by Lueders.

"Had Lascelles not been on the team, the chances of doing anything results-wise would be slim," Lueders said.

"We want the best chance at the Olympics, and that chance is better with Lascelles."

Brown moved to Canada in 2002 and applied for citizenship after acquiring landed immigrant status in 2004.

Had his request not been fast-tracked by the government, he wouldn't have been eligible to compete for Canada in Italy.

"I keep saying I didn't want to think about not being able to go, but deep down, it bothered me," Brown said.

"This has erased all that, but I always consider myself competing for Canada."

Vancouver lawyer Peter Wong said to gain citizenship that normally takes three years, Brown needed special approval from federal cabinet members, which -- after nearly two years delay -- was finally met with urgency last month.

Brown's wife, Kara, and two-year-old daughter, Zody, were also granted citizenship.


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