North Yorkshire’s JOHN Baines will ensure his Winter Olympic debut stays with him forever after revealing the British No.2 four-man bobsleigh crew’s plans to get a Games tattoo following their 19th-place finish.
Baines had a busier than expected bow in Sochi as he acted as a late replacement for the injured Craig Pickering in the two-man event before coming back out as planned for the four-man.
The 28-year-old finished 23rd with pilot Lamin Deen in the two-man and insisted that finish would be improved upon in the four-man – and the RAF airman wasn’t wrong.
Joining forces with Deen again as well as Ben Simons and Andrew Matthews, himself the late replacement for Pickering in the four-man, the British No.2 crew placed 19th after four runs in Sochi.
They finished with an overall time of 3:43.52 minutes and Baines admitted afterwards that the four have all been shopping for an Olympic tattoo to remember the experience by.
“When it comes to the four-man, the guys in the back become a brotherhood and really work together and push together. We are all there together. We have been shopping for an Olympic tattoo that we are going to get together as well – that will be a fun experience and it is something you have got to do.
“We always want to be within a tenth of the world’s best on the start. That was our aim and we met it. To say that we are within a tenth of the world’s best is absolutely amazing.
“Andy has stepped in over the last few weeks and really stepped up to the mark and competed against the best in the world and done really well. We are all proud.”
While Baines and the No.2 British four-man crew were toasting 19th the first-choice quartet of John Jackson, Joel Fearon, Stuart Benson and Bruce Tasker were an impressive fifth.
But there will be no rest for Baines now that the Games are over as he turns his attentions to the British Championships and Inter Service Championships in Igls in Austria.
It was hardly an avalanche, but the four British medals hewn from snowboard slopes, ice chutes and curling rinks represented an equal best haul to the inaugural Winter Games in Chamonix in 1924.
Six years ago, Lizzy Yarnold was an average heptathlete and David Murdoch was a world-class curler, about to win his second world title but already scarred by a near-miss at the Turin Games in 2006.
Their destinies would collide to reap a rich bounty in Sochi: Yarnold capping a dominant World Cup season by sliding faster than her skeleton rivals by almost a second over four runs; Murdoch fashioning a long-overdue silver from almost a decade of Olympic agony.
But behind their richly deserved medals, and the bronzes won by snowboarder Jenny Jones and Eve Muirhead’s women’s curling rink, were the equally encouraging stories of so many near-misses.
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