Bobsleigh: Cooke turns up the heat - on herself

Edinburgh's 2009 World Bobsleigh champion Gillian Cooke has confessed to taking on a bit of a tall order by entering the 142nd New Year 110 metres Sprint Handicap at Musselburgh at the end of this month.

"It's a bit of a step up in distance for me," admitted Cooke, after hearing her fate in yesterday's draw at the racecourse.

Cooke is in the midst of a self-funded campaign to convert from a brakewoman to a bobsleigh driver.

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"First I go out on Friday to Germany for another two races at Winterburg - I'll be back mid-December and then I hope to give it my best shot.

"At least I'm used to running on the snow."

The former international long jumper will take time out from the European Cup bobsleigh circuit to make her Sprint debut at Musselburgh Racecourse on December 31.

She faces a tough baptism as she bids to become the first woman to capture the 4000 first prize, from her start of 16.5 metres.

Her name came out of the drum in heat six against last year's runner-up Greg Turnbull (Edinburgh AC), when the draw was made at Musselburgh yesterday. "I'd rather it was frosty than muddy," she explained. "I'm really looking forward to it."

Cooke admits she has still got her "head in the bobsleigh" at the moment.

"It's a bit of fun and I'd like to do well - I'm as competitive as the next person and if I can get up with them I'll have a chance."

Back-marker Craig Fleming (Greenock) is in heat nine off 2.5 metres and faces the veteran former Meadowbank and Stenhousemuir full-back Graeme Armstrong (Edinburgh, 14.5m).

Commonwealth Games 400m relay runner Gemma Nicol (Dunfermline), who has gone close in the past, was the last name out of the draw and faces third back-marker Capital flyer Steven Charters (4.25m) in heat 12.