Humphries' and Moyse's final run turns into a national celebration
As a six-year-old, Canada’s Kaillie Humphries had watched on as family friend Mark Tewkesbury won Olympic swimming gold at Barcelona 1992. The image of Tewkesbury grinning with joy on the podium made a huge impression on the young girl, who decided there and then that she wanted to emulate him.
Though a talented skier, she eventually realised that she would never reach the standard required to make it onto the Olympic podium, and decided at the age of 17 to switch her attentions to bobsleigh.
At first she chose to be a pilot, but her youthful over-confidence soon resulted in a broken collarbone. When she returned to the sport a year later, she trained as a brakeman, earning a place as a reserve for the 2006 Games in Turin.
However, her ambition to be a pilot remained. She later said that her background as a skier allowed her to see the lines of a course more clearly and so it was that she returned to the driver’s seat after Turin 2006.
As she learned her craft, so results began to improve. Podium finishes came her way in the World Cup and, by the time the Vancouver Games began, Humphries and her brakeman Heather Moyse were among the favourites. History, though, was against them: Canada had never won a bobsleigh gold.
Humphries and Moyse were undeterred, breaking the track record to finish fastest in the first run, an indication that the history books would soon need rewriting. They lowered the record once more in the second run and again in the third, stretching their lead over the chasing field to over half a second – a huge gap in bobsleigh terms.
The final run turned into a national celebration. Humphries and Moyse were actually outpaced by their compatriots in Canada 2, who did enough to snatch silver from the grasp of the USA team, the destiny of the gold was already assured. Some 18 years after watching Tewkesbury get his gold in Barcelona, Kaillie Humphries had one of her own.