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Cooke's Sochi dream is over after Team GB snub

Gillian Cooke is considering quitting bobsleigh after the former world champion was denied the chance to chase an elusive Olympic gold in Sochi next month.

Cooke: 'I am incredibly disappointed, I was not even chosen as reserve'. Picture: Getty Images
Cooke: 'I am incredibly disappointed, I was not even chosen as reserve'. Picture: Getty Images

The 31-year-old has claimed ageism was a factor after she was omitted from the British team with British Olympic Association officials opting to pair the No.1 driver Paula Walker with brakewoman Rebekah Wilson following two months of competition on the international circuit.

It is understood that officials opted to stick rigidly to their selection criteria of demanding a top-14 place in the current rankings, even though Cooke's regular partner Victoria Olaoye had fulfilled the International Olympic Committee's own cut-off of a spot in the leading 20 drivers.

Cooke - who had obtained a third- place finish at a recent Europa Cup event - had previously hinted she would leave the sport after Sochi and will now turn her attention to chasing Scotland's long jump qualification standard for the Commonwealth Games.

"I'm incredibly disappointed," the Scot said. "I was not even chosen as reserve despite having, I believe, superior race performances this year - they're "looking to the future" and so went with a younger athlete. But I've already started on athletics and I did a jump session at the indoor track near Salzburg yesterday. And I have entered Scottish Champs on February 2 to see what I can do."

Troon-born Stuart Benson was confirmed in the four-man bob team with the 32-year-old named in the GB1 sled alongside John Jackson, Bruce Tasker and Joel Fearon.

His Olympic debut will come less than two years after the RAF avionics technician first took up the sport after previously winning Scottish athletics titles at 200 metres and triple jump.

"My journey does not end with selection but at the end of the last run of the competition having left everything on the ice," Benson said.

Another former sprinter, Craig Pickering, will become one of the select few to compete at both the Winter and Summer Games when he lines up in the two-man bobsleigh, while Murray Buchan, from Edinburgh, will race in the halfpipe among a 19-strong ski and snowboard contingent.

The team also includes Huntly hopeful Andrew Musgrave who pulled off a shock victory in the Norwegian Championships last weekend following a recent ninth-placed finish in a World Cup event.

"This will be my second Olympics, having also raced at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, but four years ago I was still very young," said the Highlander, who moved to Norway in a quest for regular competition.

"Going into Sochi I feel like a much more experienced athlete and I believe what I have learnt over the course of the last four years will help me perform to a much higher level."

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