Olympic bobsleigh pilot Paula Walker announces retirement
Double Olympian Paula Walker has announced her retirement from bobsleigh.
The 29-year-old, who trained at the University of Bath, piloted Britain to 11th place at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver and 12th at Sochi 2014.
She gave birth to daughter Poppy later that year and is set to marry fellow British Bobsleigh pilot John Jackson, so Walker is retiring to focus on her family.
“It’s been a very tough decision to leave the British Bobsleigh family but, after having my daughter Poppy, all my time and attention needs to go to her,” said Walker, who in 2011 became the first British woman to win the World Junior Championships.
“I’d like to personally thank all my team mates along the way who have braved their lives getting into my sled and given me 100 per cent day in, day out.
“My career couldn’t have happened without the support of the British Bobsleigh & Skeleton Association and in particular I would like to thank Peter Gunn, who has been my driving coach since I made the transition to pilot. His knowledge and patience have been tested to their limits!
“I wish the entire team the best of luck in their quest to be the world’s best.”
Performance Director Gary Anderson has worked with Walker since 2010, when British Bobsleigh moved its training base back to the University of Bath.
“We’ve got a lot to thank Paula for,” he said.
“Paula winning the World Junior Championships in Park City in 2011 helped put British Bobsleigh back on the map. A lot of the investment we are now getting started on that day when Paula proved that we could compete with the best in the world.
“Paula’s win in the World Junior Championships was a catalyst for the future success of the sport and it was a real milestone on our journey so far. She has been an asset to British Bobsleigh and we wish her all the best in her future endeavours.”
British Bobsleigh and British Skeleton, also based at the University of Bath, recently merged to form the British Bobsleigh & Skeleton Association under the guidance of new Chief Executive Richard Parker.
Previously the two sports were joined at governance level only for the purpose of National Olympic Committee and International Federation representation.
Bobsleigh Olympian John Jackson added: “We have always supported each other as athletes and now we will get the chance to compete under the same banner. I’m really looking forward to seeing this develop”.
2014 Sochi Olympic skeleton slider Dominic Parsons added: “We’ve certainly had a lot of fun with the tasks and we’ve had a good opportunity to ask questions about the future. It all looks exciting”.