T&T bobsleigh men seeking to advance out of heats.

TEAM TTO brakeman of the two-man bobsleigh team, André Marcano, says he and pilot Axe Brown’s first objective will be to qualify for the final when they tackle heat one of the event from 8.05 a.m. (T&T time) at the Yanqing National Sliding Centre, today.

At the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games, the pair will push off in position number 29, the penultimate spot preceding the Jamaican duo of Shanwayne Stephens and Nimroy Turgott in Yanqing, the mountainous suburb of China’s capital, located 75 kilometres (47 miles) north-west of Beijing’s city centre.

Besides the bobsleigh, Yanqing’s Olympic venues will also play host to luge and skeleton events for this Olympiad. All 30 teams will participate in two runs, the second of which takes place tomorrow from 8.15 a.m. (T&T time) at the National Sliding Centre, China’s first sliding track and only the third in Asia with a seating capacity of 2,000, and a standing capacity of 8,000.

While the track itself is 1.9 kilometres (1 3/16 miles) and covered by a wooden roof, the competition course length is 1,376 metres (7/8ths mile) and features 16 curves and a vertical drop totalling 117 metres (115 yards).

Both the 35-year-old Marcano and 29-year-old Brown have had four practice runs in training events dating back to Thursday when they were timed in one minute, 02.52 seconds followed by a 1:02.00 timing on Friday. In their two final practice runs Saturday, the TTO duo clocked 1:01.35 then 1:01.68 to cap off their preparation phase while yesterday was a rest day ahead of the competition.

“Preparations are going well. With each run, I am gaining confidence and being able to push off the block so that I can set the pilot Axel (Brown) up for his drive,” said Marcano, a professional track sprinter who has transitioned to the bobsleigh event. “My push and being aggressive off the blocks is one of the identified areas that needs the most attention.”

Marcano added his confidence has been growing with each run. “Also having a coach that has lots of experience being an Olympic athlete and coach is really helpful because he can pinpoint what I need to keep and what I need to change. Believe it or not, this is my first time competing in a bobsleigh (bobsled) event, but I am excited to go out there and represent Trinidad and Tobago,” said Marcano.

The squad is being coached by 23-year-old Thomas Harris, a former brakeman for the Great Britain team, while Shakeel John, who replaced TTO hurdler Mikel Thomas, is the alternate for the squad.

Asked what were the team’s performance expectations for Team TTO—making a return to the Winter Olympics after a 20-year hiatus—Marcano said: “Well as Axel (Brown) said in an interview, our gold medal is to make it into the final which is being part of the final 20 teams. We are up against some really amazing teams that have been together for many years. So we have our work cut out for us but anything can happen on the day, so we will go out there and compete and do the best we can.”

Team TTO competed in three Winter Olympics—in the men’s bobsleigh—the last occasion being the 2002 edition in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, when Gregory Sun combined with Errol Aguillera. In the previous two Winter Games at Lillehammer, Norway, in 1994, and Nagano, Japan, in 1998, Sun teamed up with Curtis Harry.

So does Marcano feel the burden of that TTO Winter Olympics history? “No pressure at all… it has been 20 years since we have been to the Winter Olympics and we have only been together a couple of months. So I think that Trinidad and Tobago being able to qualify for the Winter Olympics, and being here is enough to make our country proud.

“Whatever happens during competition is icing on the cake. I believe that bobsleigh (bobsled) will grow and we will become competitive in the world with time and experience,” Marcano concluded.

Source: https://trinidadexpress.com