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Benson confident of smooth medal run

Stuart Benson sought out expert advice on aerodynamics before travelling to Sochi in a bid to help Britain win its first Olympic bobsleigh gold medal for 50 years.

The Scot is part of the four-man team who chase Olympic success today and he was sure to try and find an edge when he visited an aerospace company and a Formula One team for tips on improving their performance on the track.

It is Benson's maiden Games and he will take his position behind pilot John Jackson.  A lack of experience might cause Benson to stand out in competition, but perhaps not as much as 6ft 5ins frame; the Troon-born Olympian not only the tallest member of a crew comprising Jackson, Bruce Tasker and Joel Fearon but also the entire British team.

It was his size which first caused Benson and his bobsleigh team to meet with the very best to ensure that his frame is turned to their advantage in Sochi. They visited aerospace experts BAE Systems and F1 team McLaren to discuss aerodynamics and, if results leading up to the Games are anything to go by, it appears to have worked wonders.

Silver medals in both the World Cup and European Championships were won in December and January respectively. Benson is now confident of picking up where Tony Nash and Robin Dixon left off for Britain in 1964, when they won two-man gold in Innsbruck. That feat was followed by Sean Olsson's four-man bronze in Nagano 1998, but Benson is aiming high in Sochi.

"I think being the tallest member of the team is an advantage in terms of aerodynamics. We did a little bit of work in the winter at BAE Systems in Preston and with McLaren," he said. "We did a lot of sitting still and moving positions and it turns out that the way we sit in the sled, Jacko's helmet takes up a bit of room and then progressively we can form a nice aerodynamic shape behind the driver.

"I am second, right behind him. Aerodynamics is not always about looking pretty, there is a certain way it works that might not be obvious to the naked eye. So after a bit of testing, it seems to help that I am second in the sled."

Benson has taken further incentive from Britain's history in the sport of bobsleigh - the country having built the famous Cresta Run in St Moritz in the late 1800s. He is adamant that medals should be considered serious business and not one-offs. "We should be always competing for a medal or at least a top finish," he said.

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