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Olympian shares bobsleigh tips with primary students

14 August 2013

On the eastern seaboard of Australia today, right in the very top and then down in the very bottom, 60 lucky primary students were given a rare insight into the life of a bobsleigh Olympian.

Students from the Coen Campus of the Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy and students from Welshpool District Public School in the Mornington Peninsula participated in the AOC’s Chat to a Champ program with two time Olympian Astrid Radjenovic.

“For most of us up in the far top of Australia, who have never seen snow before, it was a great opportunity to speak to Astrid and learn about the Winter Olympics,” teacher Craig Spence said.

In an online web video conference, the students asked Radjenovic questions ranging from how much she bench presses through to her injuries, the speed of the track and what it is like to compete at the Olympic Games.

“What is it like going down the ice?” a student from Coen Campus asked.

“It is really fast and the first time really scary,” Radjenovic said. “You walk the track so you can work out in your mind how you are going to steer the bobsleigh. After a while it is not as scary any more as you have been practicing.”

“Is it hard to push at the start?” Welshpool Public asked.

“It can be hard to push at the start. It weighs about 180kg, probably the same weight as 6 or 7 of you guys together. You need to be really strong in bobsleigh.”
 “What is the track like?” Coen asked.

“The track goes for 1500m and drops over 200m,” Radjenovic said. “Some parts are really steep and you drop really fast. Other parts are flatter. That is why the sled goes so fast as it running down a steep hill.”

“When did you start in your chosen sport?” a student from Welshpool Public asked.

“When I was your age I tried to do as much sport as I could – about 6 days a week,” Radjenovic said. “I loved to go to training and better myself at that sport.
“I didn’t start bobsleigh until I as 21,” Radjenovic said. “You can’t start until you are 16. It is difficult sport and kids can hurt themselves. There are a few sports, such as luge, that you can start at a younger age.”

 “How do you control the sled?” Coen asked?

“You have two blades at front and two at the back,” Radjenovic said. “The two at front can move left and right. Sort of like a car. You have two strings in the bob that you use to steer and you have to know on each corner when to do the steer. It is complicated but after a few years of practising you get quite good at it.”

“What is it like competing at the Olympic Games?”

“Every athlete is really excited about competing in the Olympic Games,” Radjenovic said. “If you get there it means you have done well in your sport and you have trained really hard. It is a positive feeling because all those hard years of training have paid off.

“Being an Olympian is something I thought about as a kid. I used to watch the Olympics when I was young and used to think about going to the Summer Games. It was something I wanted to do when I was younger but did not know the sport. As soon as I started in bobsleigh I realised this was the sport I would love.”

Frances Cordaro


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