Olympics: British four-man bob struck by stone

Canadian curlers fail again
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The Independent Online

Lee Johnston, the driver of Britain's second-string four-man bobsleigh team, was hit by an object thrown from the crowd during the team's second run and almost crashed.

The Royal Marine commando complained he had been struck on the visor while the GB-II team were descending at about 80 miles an hour. They managed to complete the course but, on appeal, they were allowed to go again. The rerun was not as good as the first effort, though, as GB-II slipped to 17th place with a combined time of 1min 34.38sec.

Johnston told BBC Radio: "I was coming out of bend 10 and all I saw was an arm come out in front of the bob and an object come towards me. It smacked me right in the middle of the visor, which completely blew my concentration – so much so that I nearly crashed in bend 13, I was off coming out of 14. It was something that really scared me."

It emerged that a child had thrown a stone on to the track. Both the child and its parents were taken away by the US authorities.

GB-I, driven by Neil Scarisbrick, are 13th after their two runs in 1:34.14 – 0.88sec off the lead held by USA-I. Their 1:33.26 put them ahead of Switzerland-I and Germany-II, who were tied on 1:33.35. The last two runs were scheduled for late yesterday, when GB-I had a near-impossible task of matching the bronze medal Britain won in Nagano four years ago.

Alex Coomber, back in Britain after winning a bronze medal in the women's bob skeleton, hopes her heroics in Salt Lake City could spark a skeleton craze in Britain. Coomber, who won her medal on Wednesday, believes skeleton racing could be the "next big thing" after her sport captured the imagination of British youngsters.

Her national association have reported a surge in interest, and the RAF flight-lieutenant believes anybody young and athletic could turn their hand to the sport. Coomber said: "Just like curling plans to do, we need to capitalise on the Olympic success immediately. In four months nobody in the country will be talking about skeleton bob World Cup races; we must use the high profile we have now."

Canada, the dominant force in world curling, lost the men's final to Norway yesterday, having collected only a bronze medal in the women's event. Norway took advantage of a rare error by the Canadian skip, Kevin Martin, to win 6-5 and take gold in the second-ever Olympic tournament. Canada could have locked up a win with the last stone, but Martin came out wide and heavy on a relatively easy shot.

Canada had to settle for silver last time in Nagano, too. "I thought we were going to be a lot happier when we came up here," said Martin, whose team have won two of the last four World Championships. His team-mate Carter Rycroft added: "It's an open wound right now."

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