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Aussie 2-man finish on a high

20 February 2018

BOBSLEIGH: The Aussie bobsleigh two-man pair of Lucas Mata and David Mari have finished their opening Olympic event in 22nd place, recording a personal best time in their third run at the Alpensia Slidng Centre. 

Finishing agonisingly close to the top 20 in the fourth and final run, Mata and Mari came down the track in 49.87 seconds -- their best time on the South Korean track and an achievement pilot Mata said he was proud of. 

"I’m happy. When you finish with the board saying 21 its stings a little, but to see all of the support we have here and how many family and friends we’ve got is amazing," Mata said. 

"It stings a little bit knowing that the first run could have been a little bit cleaner when we had such a good start draw. We could have made a little more of it. But like we’ve said that’s racing. You make a couple of mistakes here and there.

"This sport is tenths and hundreds of seconds, so to be knocked out by a couple of tenths it's tough but you know what we had fun, we performed some of the goals we wanted to do so we’re happy."

The Aussies were eventually bumped into 22nd place as the American crew piloted by good friend Nick Cunningham finished +.07 faster. 

"How close everyone was, you make one mistake and that’s what happens," Mata said. 

"Corner 2 I’ve been struggling with all week. I’ve been trying to change some things but with the ice was hard. It just didn’t happen for me. I had a little bump into corner 5 but it wasn’t detrimental, nailed the straight which I was happy with."

Mata, competing at his second Games, reflected on both Olympic experiences including moving from being a brakeman in Sochi to the pilot in 2018. 

"Being in the back was a little different - you do your job then you let the pilot take over. Whereas now you push and then I have to take the sled down myself.

"You do beat yourself up a little bit when you make mistakes but it’s so much fun. This sport is amazing, the people are amazing and my time here is amazing so I can’t be upset with it. Time to move into the four-man and I’m excited."

Mata and Mari will now turn their focus to the four-man event, set to take to the Olympic stage on Saturday morning. David Mari said the boys, joined by Hayden Smith and Lachlan Reidy will head straight back to training. 

"We always want to be competitive and the four man is another beast. It’s awesome to have another two guys in the sled. Everyone’s firing each other up and I’m pretty excited if I’m honest," Mari said. 

"Straight back into it tomorrow. Back into training get ready for the four man. Put the two-man aside and focus on the next task."

Mata added that the goal for the Australians will remain a top 20 finish, a feat that has only ever been achieved once before at the 1994 Winter Games. 

"I think top 20 is still the goal. We finished higher than we thought here. We really wanted to get into the top 20 here but it didn’t happen, so the four-man we have that same goal, so hopefully we can pip some people.

"Four-man is a different beast. The two man is a little easier to drive whereas the four man is like driving a bus at 140 km/h -- it’ll be fun. We’ve got two other boys in the sled. The boys will be there and behind the whole way so it’ll be good."

The Alpensia Slidng Centre was lit up with green and gold tonight, as a number of the pair's fellow Olympic teammates came out to show their support and cheer on "the boys."

"It was awesome to see a lot of green and gold and hear a lot of yelling. That always fires us up a little bit," Mari said. 

"That’s what sport's about. Firing it up, supporting each other and ripping it down the ice."

Overall Mata said he walks away from the two-man event, proud of what he and Mari have achieved. 

"100 percent I am proud -- we were consistent all week. We had some really good times all week and to end on a personal best time down this track. You can’t be happier than that."

Men's bobsleigh will return to the track on the final two days of Olympic competition as the 30 best four-man crews will be looking for a spot on the top of the podium. 

Ashleigh Knight

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