Monobob medal in sight of Aussie sledder

Melissa WoodsAAP
Breeana Walker has her sights set on competing in two events at the Beijing Winter Olympics.
Camera IconBreeana Walker has her sights set on competing in two events at the Beijing Winter Olympics. Credit: AP

From running around an athletics track to sliding down an icy dragon-shaped track in Beijing as she hunts the first ever Winter Olympics monobob gold medal, Breeana Walker's sports career has taken some twists and turns.

The women's monobob - an individual bobsleigh - will be contested for the first time at the Olympics, which begin in China on February 4.

The event was included with the idea of lowering the financial barrier of racing a bobsleigh, which can cost more than $130,000, and is unique with all athletes using identical bobs which hit speeds of about 120km/h.

Walker, as well as being Australia's first monobob representative, also pilots a women's two-person bobsleigh that is aiming to win selection.

"I obviously still have to qualify for both events, but to be the first to have the opportunity to compete in two events is a real honour and I hope I can do Australia proud," the 28-year-old from Melbourne told AAP.

"I'm excited for the results that came from last season and we're hoping to execute the same results this coming season."

Walker finished the 2021 season ranked second in the overall monobob standings while her bobsleigh team - including brakepersons Sarah Blizzard and Stef Fernandez - were an impressive seventh.

Walker was a 400 metre hurdler who took up a college track and field scholarship in Arkansas.

She said that training was very different and she came back to Australia slower because of a focus on building muscle in the gym which, while not ideal for 400m, was perfect for the explosive start of a bobsleigh.

Walker is currently in Beijing for a test event, spending three weeks familiarising herself with the 1.9 kilometre track that features 16 angles curves and from above resembles a mythical Chinese dragon.

"We've really worked hard to figure out the track here because when we arrived we had no idea how to drive the track so it's been like playing a bit of a guessing game and working with my coaches," Walker said.

"We've figured out the track and then so now it's just about trying to execute as consistently as possible and so far it's all going very well."

Being among the first international athletes training in China after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in early 2020, Walker said the experience of being on location before the Olympics was invaluable.

"We've had daily COVID tests and a pretty strict lockdown situation in terms of that we can't leave the hotel complex," she said.

"It's not our normal free lives - on the day off, you can't just walk down the street and get a coffee so we will be mentally and physically prepared for that time at the Olympics because of this experience."

Walker won't learn if she's qualified for the Games until January 16, with eight world cup races before them, starting with Innsbruck, Austria, in late November.

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