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Australia withdraws Four-Man sled

24 February 2010

Australia has withdrawn from the Four-Man Bobsleigh competition at the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games, with two of the selected athletes injured in crashes during the Two-Man event not fully fit to compete.

Duncan Harvey is still suffering from back pain following a crash on the second training run of the Two-Man competition behind Chris Spring on Wednesday night, while Duncan Pugh, the brakeman for Jeremy Rolleston, was concussed when their sled turned over in the opening run of competition on Saturday.

Coaches Murray Turner and Dallas Butcher, along with Australian team medical staff, have been monitoring the recovery of both Harvey and Pugh, and discussed the options at length with all team members.

However when it became clear that both would be restricted in their ability to perform their duties if the team was to compete, Turner and Butcher were left with little choice but to withdraw.

“The decision was certainly not taken lightly,” Australian Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman said.

“Everyone involved with not only the bobsleigh team but the entire Australian team is well aware what a privilege it is to be able to represent your country at the Olympic Games.

“But when it comes to the health and well being of the young men and women who proudly wear the Australian colours, we have to weigh the risks and if there is any doubt, as in this case, we have to err on the side of caution,” Chesterman added.

The Australian sled was a late addition to the Four-Man field, initially missing out on a quota place only to be offered a spot when Austria declined to send a second team.

While the two Two-Man entries had been confirmed the previous week, it was the start of what has become truly a rollercoaster month for Sydney Physical Education teacher Anthony Ryan.

Ryan had just gone back to work at Chatswood High School at the start of the new school year when he received the call and started packing for Vancouver.

Just three weeks later he received another unexpected call, this time when Harvey was injured in last Wednesday night’s crash. Ryan filled in as brakeman for Spring’s final four training runs, before Harvey returned on Saturday for the first two competition heats.

Then when Harvey was again feeling greater discomfort in his lower back following those two runs, Ryan became a fully-fledged Olympian when he was granted permission to substitute for Spring’s third and final run on Sunday.

Murray Brust

AOC - Whistler

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