Winter Olympics: Lillehammer '94: Tout the hard driver

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN'S bobsleigh team are on course today for a best-ever combined performance in the Olympic two-man competition. Mark Tout and Sean Olsson were lying in eighth and ninth positions respectively after yesterday's opening two runs here, with Switzerland being the only other nation to have two crews in the top 10.

Two years ago at the Albertville Olympics, Tout and his brakeman, Lenny Paul, were the surprise leaders at the half-way stage before slipping back the following morning to finish sixth. But there was never any likelihood of them getting off to a similar flying start yesterday from the No 12 slot.

Tout recorded the ninth fastest time of 52.77sec on the opening run and gained a place on the next descent when he clocked the sixth best time of 53.15. But he will be fourth to start on the reversed draw for this morning's first run and is optimistic of at least equalling his Albertville finish. 'If I was disappionted about anything today it was that we weren't up with the big boys on our start times,' the 33-year-old soldier said.

It was Olsson and Paul Field, a London policeman, who really came up trumps yesterday, twice breaking the British start-time record on the track here. From the No 17 slot in the draw on the opening run, they blasted off the block in 5.05, compared with Tout's 5.06, to set the 10th fastest time of 52.86. They then had the ninth best time on the second run from a blistering 5.02 start.

Switerland's Gustav Weder, bidding to become the first driver to retain the Olympic two-man title, set a new track record of 52.33 on the opening run. But he was overhauled on the second by his team-mate Reto Goetschi, who leads by just 0.10 overnight.