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Minins ready for speed trap

Driving a bobsleigh through Whistler's gut-wrenching turns at 90mph was probably not the advice Janis Minins was given by his surgeon after having his appendix removed on the day the Games opened.

But that is exactly what the Latvian speed-junkie, who recently crashed his father's Harley Davidson into a cemetery, was doing this week as official training began for the four-man competition which starts tomorrow.

Then again, the 29-year-old Minins says nothing Whistler can throw at him will be as bad as his experience after undergoing emergency surgery for an appendicitis sustained during a training run in Vancouver.

"After surgery I had two days in hell," said Minins, who holds the track record at Whistler and is a real medal prospect. "My muscles were paralysed, I couldn't breath, I was hyper-ventilating. That was one terrible day.

"The second day I had hiccups. Each time when I drunk something, I was like hiccup, hiccup, hiccup. Can you imagine the pain if I do hiccups two days after surgery? That was two days in hell. Now, I don't care about bobsleigh crashes."

Minins, a firefighter by profession, reluctantly missed the two-man competition but as the world's second-ranked four-man pilot there was no way he would miss out again. Asked if he was a little crazy he shrugged, but his description of the Harley wreck rather gave the game away. "Just after last season, I was having fun one day and I had a big accident on a Harley Davidson Road King," he said. "It was my father's. I was driving too fast and I went into one corner and forget I was driving a Harley, not road bike.

"I was trying to lean into a 90 degree corner but the engine touched the tarmac and I went straight and flew into cemetery. I woke up, brushed myself off. It was not fast, only 80kmh, it was normal." With that he wandered off to eat a large steak. "I lost eight kilos when I was in hospital," he said.