Eurosport - Mon, 15 Mar 22:38:00 2010
Russell Docker has vowed to strike it third time lucky at the Winter Games in Vancouver after initially fearing the Paralympic curse had returned to haunt him once more.
The 42-year-old alpine skier was selected to make his Games debut at Salt Lake City in 2002 but crashed out in the downhill and failed to complete his schedule.
Docker was offered the chance to make amends in 2006 but injured his shoulder in the build up and failed to compete for a podium place.
But after recovering from a hairline fracture after he dropped a medicine ball on his foot in training earlier this year, Docker is determined to make up for lost time in Canada.
"I had a little incident training at home in the gym when a medicine ball landed on me and I suffered a hairline fracture," said Docker.
"There was a little bit of pain and I had a precautionary cast on but I'm in great shape now and I'm raring to go.
"I've had a difficult time at the Paralympics in the past after crashing in 2002 and injuring my shoulder before the 2006 Games but I feel as fit as I've ever been right now.
"I'd had cortisone injections in 2006 and it was all in my head that it was a problem so it was difficult.
"But I'm fit now and there is nothing bothering me which is good because your mind has to be fully focused on skiing at the Paralympics.
"I do have the experience as well from the last two Games and that will help me mentally to be ready too.
"I was playing it all a little safe in my races last year just to make sure I qualify, but now I have I really feel a weight has been lifted.
"I know I've got more left in the tank and you don't win races by taking it easy so I'm ready to take a gamble in Vancouver."
Despite the financial problems that saw SnowsportGB collapse on the eve of the Olympic Games, Docker and co had no expense spared in the 12 months leading up to the Paralympics.
The British squad were flown out to New Zealand for pre-season training in August, while Docker has also been working on his general fitness at Fitness First in Poole.
"We flew out to New Zealand and it turned out all the other countries were already there and they'd been doing it for years," added Docker.
"On the one hand it is great that we are doing it but on the other hand it shows we have been chasing the pack a little bit.
"I think it is important for British skiing that we continue to try and give our athletes the best.
"The system has improved year on year but we have to keep doing that - we can't afford to rest.
"I feel my preparation has gone really well and if I can take a little gamble and claim a medal in Vancouver then I'll look back and say it has been perfect."