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07 Feb 1948

Frank Tyler - Bobsleigh

A huge number of the athletes competing at these Games had seen their sporting careers put on hold by the Second World War. Among them was 43-year-old bobsleigh pilot Frank Tyler, who had taken part in the 1936 Games in Garmisch, and then waited patiently to get another go at Olympic success.

Tyler was a policeman in Lake Placid, and also a member of the city's Sno Birds club. The Sno Birds were the bobsleigh team, and Tyler was considered its most reliable pilot. In 1936, he and his team-mates had finished sixth in the men's four, but a long way from challenging for a podium position. Tyler was 31 years old, and looking forward to having another go at pushing for a medal.

He was to wait more than a decade for that opportunity to come along again. He was now 43 years old, working as an insurance adjuster and a little heavier than he had been in 1936.

In fact, he and his team-mates were notably bigger than rival teams, weighing in at just under 900 pounds – that's more than 400kg. They were also fast – second quickest over the first run and then more than a second clear of the field during the second run to take the overall lead after the first day.

The second run had presented an unusual problem though – a water pipe burst, flooding the run and suspending the competition for a while!

The third run proved crucial. Norway-1 set the fastest time, only for that mark to be tied by Tyler and his crew. Now, with just one run left in the competition, they led the field by 1.4secs. As long as Tyler could steer them down with his normal precision, the gold was theirs.

Mindful of what was at stake, he took it a little easy, giving up nearly a second to the fast-finishing Belgians, who ended up in second place. But the gold was safe – and Tyler had his Olympic medal after all those years of waiting.

Tyler returned to the Games in 1952 as the coach to the US bobsleigh team, and was its manager at the 1956 Olympic Winter Games.

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