TRINIDAD and Tobago men’s bobsleigh team must execute perfectly and hope several top nations falter during race three on Tuesday morning if they are to have the slightest chance of advancing to the fourth and final round at the Winter Olympic Games.
After the opening two races at the Yanqing National Sliding Centre track in Beijing, China on Monday, pilot Axel Brown and brakeman Andre Marcano finished 27th among the 30 competing nations.
The third round begins at 8.15 am and TT will have to dig deep since only the top 20 nations advance to the final stage, which gets under way 90 minutes later.
Their two runs along the icy course saw them accumulate a total time of two minutes and 01.70 seconds (2:01.70). The pair clocked 1:00.81 on their first slide and then 1:00.89 on their second.
TT is currently ahead of one of two participating USA teams (2:01.78), Brazil (2:02.47) and Jamaica (2:02.58) respectively.
Favourites Germany staked claim to the top two positions heading into day two as they clocked blistering times of 1:58.38 and 1:58.53 respectively.
Russia Olympic Committee is third (1:59.32), another German team fourth (1:59.37), followed by Switzerland (1:59.47), who round off the top-five.
TT’s more-experienced Brown, who raced for several years in the UK, was happy with their opening day efforts and remains optimistic for Tuesday’s third race.
“I’m very happy with the performance of the whole team. We have exceeded our expectations and represented ourselves well. I'm happy with my drive, and hopefully, we can build on it tomorrow,” he said.
However, Marcano is nursing a ruptured tendon in his left knee and his inexperience showed a bit during TT’s two starts, as he mistakenly lifted the sleigh out of the track at the start of each sprint.
Nevertheless, Marcano is elated.
“Tonight was nothing short of amazing,” he said. “This was my first time competing in the sport of bobsleigh and I only got in a sled last week! Honestly, I was very nervous about it all but I knew I had my teammate and TT depending on me to do my job and I gave it everything I had.
“I am so proud of what we have accomplished as a team in such a short space of time. We’ve made great strides in the event of bobsleigh and I have every intention to continue to contribute to this sport!”
Marcano thanked the Almighty, his family, friends and TT for showing the team love and support on their historic journey.
“It (support) certainly means a lot. I have been reading every comment and message via social media and I am truly grateful,” he added.
TT Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis, who joined the team in Beijing on Sunday, shared similar sentiments.
“In very many ways, in context of where the TT programme would have come from, it’s a decent day at the office. What was important was completing the course and not crashing. They have a lot to hold their heads here in Beijing and we look forward to day two tomorrow,” he said.
Lewis said there’s a lot to be proud of, especially since this is TT’s first appearance at the Games after a 20-year absence. He championed their determination as a Caribbean nation to stand up against the world’s best.
“The guys represented themselves with pride and honour. It’s about punching above your weight. There’s a lot you can point to in terms of the other teams; resources, the cost of the sled, the experience factor.
“So from the TTOC perspective, we are very proud of the effort put out by Team TTO here in Beijing. So it’s about resting up for tomorrow (Tuesday) and giving it your best shot,” Lewis closed.
Heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures continue to affect some outdoor event at the Games.