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Sliders to tackle Whistler course head on

22 January 2010

Two former surf lifesavers and a former handball star are the latest athletes to be selected for the Vancouver 2010 Australian Olympic Winter Team.

Emma Lincoln-Smith and Melissa Hoar have been selected as Australia’s two female skeleton athletes aiming to tame the fastest track in the world – head on.

They will be joined by 25-year-old Anthony Deane who remarkably has been sliding for less than 12 months. A member of the Australian handball team playing semi-professionally in Europe Deane was after a new challenge.

“After playing team sports all my life I made the drastic switch,” Dean said. “I had some physical testing done, matched the sport and thought that this speed could become very addictive... how right I was!”

The three athletes are understandably relieved to have qualified after a tough season which has seen them battle it out not only against the best in the world but their own teammates to achieve selection.

The women’s qualification was particularly tough with four athletes ranked in the world’s top 25, vying for two spots allocated to Australia. Hoar, the 2006 world junior champion, finished the qualification period ranked 12th in the world and Lincoln-Smith 13th.

“To make the Olympics means more to me than I can possibly put into words,” an elated Lincoln-Smith said. “I’ve wanted this since before I can remember and have worked so hard for it.”

Twenty-four-year-old Lincoln-Smith had a successful background in surf lifesaving before moving into skeleton through the Australian Institute of Sport’s talent identification program. She also competed at the 2001 and 2003 Australian Youth Olympic Festivals in athletics, an experience she thanks for her ability to deal with the demands of professional sport.

“Competing at a high level in track and field has definitely helped me get to where I am today,” she said. “I think it’s helped me immensely in dealing with the pressures of racing on the international stage in skeleton.”

Hoar’s selection is particularly satisfying as she has battled injury for the past two seasons.
 
The two have consistently produced top ten performances this season and have only been a fraction of a second off the podium.

“The Games mean everything to me and I can’t wait to race and give everything I have,” Lincoln-Smith said. “I know what I’m capable of now it’s just a matter of doing it when it matters the most.”

The skeleton section of the 2010 Australian Olympic Winter Team:

Anthony Deane (25) Sydney, NSW
Melissa Hoar (26) Dalmeny, NSW
Emma Lincoln-Smith (24) Sydney, NSW

Note: Australia is on the list to be allocated an additional quota place by FIBT under the quota reallocation process by 26 January 2010. If this occurs, John Farrow has been nominated as the athlete to be added to the Team.

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