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Baines aims to make Pickering proud
Great Britain bobsleigh brake-man John Baines has vowed to make injured team-mate Craig Pickering proud when he teams up with pilot Lamin Deen in the men's two-man competition at the Sanki Sliding Center above Sochi on Sunday.
Baines, who was already part of the GB2 four-man squad, has been promoted to Deen's two-man crew following the withdrawal of Beijing Olympian Pickering due to a back injury last week.
Baines said: "I was massively happy to get the call, but it is a terrible shame about Craig.
"We were all very close in the squad and I spent a lot of time training and competing with him. I have learned a lot from working so closely with an athlete of such high calibre."
Baines has pushed for Deen in the two-man squad before, with the duo securing a number of top 10 finishes on the Americas Cup circuit this season.
Deen admitted the withdrawal of Pickering was a major blow and "felt like the end of the world" when it was announced following extensive medical tests at the team's pre-Olympic training camp in Konigssee.
Deen said: "We had planned so much in the two-man and the four-man to have a strategy to hit the Olympic Games in the best possible shape, and Craig's injury clearly affected those plans.
"However, we are fortunate in that we have built a team in which we have a number of athletes who are capable of filling Craig's shoes, and John is certainly one of them.
"I spoke to Craig on the phone after the news of his injury and he was very encouraging to us. He told us just to keep doing what we are doing and to do it the best we can.
"Speaking on behalf of the rest of team, there will certainly be a place in our hearts for Craig Pickering."
GB bobsleigh team leader Gary Anderson added: "I know that John can step up here and has been seeking this chance for some time. He now has the chance to show the world what he is capable of."