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We hope it's downhill from here...say our Olympic bobsleighers

Ireland's female bobsleigh team are busy preparing for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver -- but they are sick of being compared to movie Cool Runnings.

The two-woman team will be the first team to represent Ireland in this category.

However, coach Siobhain Hoey said that they are tired of comparisons to the Jamaican team, which was the subject of Hollywood comedy Cool Runnings.

"I have to say it's quite irritating. Fair enough if it brings the sport to the attention of people. But it was a Walt Disney movie," she laughed."Yes, there was a Jamaican team, but no, they didn't crash, they didn't carry the sled.

Elated

"It's taken 10 years for this to be reached and it is a tremendous achievement. So I would have apprehensions when people ask if we're like Cool Runnings, but I suppose all I can say is 'that's cool'.

"Britain are not much different to us and they are the world champions."

Siobhain's sister, pilot Aoife Hoey, and brakewoman Claire Bergin qualified in 20th place at San Moritz in Switzerland and will travel to the games at the weekend.

"We are elated, but there is so much to do before we even get there," Siobhain said. "I think it will all sink in during the opening ceremony on February 12.

"It's a dream come true for everyone. It's a testament to all the women down through the years who were instrumental in starting the women's programme."

As part of their training, the team pushes a dry sled in Santry. They travel the European and World circuit and, during the off-season, they train with weights, on dry land and with speed work.

The Hoey sisters narrowly missed out on qualifying for the games in 2002 and 2006.

But Siobhain said that she is still extremely nervous every time her sister and teammate hit the ice: "I say a particular prayer pattern every time they slide. It's a very dangerous sport, anything could happen."

The women will join Pat Shannon, who took a qualifying spot for in the Men's Skeleton discipline, and three skiers including Alpine downhill skier Niall O'Connor, in representing Ireland in the Vancouver Games next month.

clairemurphy@herald.ie