Olympics-Bobsleigh-Dogged Dalmatians defy odds to reach Games
if News By Zoran Radosavljevic REUTERS Feb 8 2002 3:32AM
SPLIT, Croatia, Feb 8 (Reuters) - What do you get when you take a 40-year-old former motorcycle champion with an adrenaline buzz and add two track runners and a rower, all from a Mediterranean city where it rarely snows? Answer: The Croatian four-man bobsleigh team which has qualified against all odds for the Winter Olympics despite a lack of funds, training and experience. "At first, everyone thought we were crazy," the team's pilot and oldest member Ivan Sola told Reuters in an interview after improvised training. "But Split is a town where it snows every five years and then for about seven minutes. So everyone laughed at the idea of a bobsleigh team. But now we are having the last laugh, we are going to the Olympics," Sola said. The four practise regularly at the soccer stadium owned by local club Hajduk Split. The drill is invariably the same: they push a clinking, red, metal construction mounted on wheels, jump in and ride about 20 metres to the end of the race track beside the pitch. Sola admits it is nowhere near the real thing. "You pass the finish line all bruised up and breathless but with a big adrenaline rush, after speeding down the track at up to 150 kph," he said.
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