STOPPING short of calling it a blessing in disguise, John Jackson admits that battling past a ruptured Achilles tendon to lead his country’s top crew at this month’s Winter Olympics has probably made him a better athlete.
The 36-year-old Great Britain star, who lives in Trowbridge, had his Sochi 2014 ambitions thrown into doubt when he was forced to go under the knife in July. But after a near-miraculous recovery from a pioneering ‘internal brace’ procedure, Jackson stood alongside his GBR1 teammates at the start line of the Sanki Sliding Centre track last weekend.
Jackson and his crew, Stuart Benson, Bruce Tasker and Joel Fearon, then defied the odds to clinch a fifth-placed finish in the men’s four-man event, with the British sled just 0.11 seconds off the podium positions.
“Now that I’m back from Sochi, I’m going to have the time to try and get my Achilles back to where I want it to be but I think that it’s probably going to have made me a better athlete in the end,” Jackson told the Wiltshire Times.
“Everything was geared towards me pushing off in those first 22 to 25 metres and I ended up concentrating on the technical side of things as I made sure I was going to be there with the rest of my team.
“I don’t really think that I could have done much better if I’d been at 100 per cent and it’s almost been a blessing in disguise.
“We held our own against some of the best teams in the world out there and we don’t even have our own track.
“We were so close to a medal but I can’t be unhappy with the result out there.
“The support we had out there through social media was amazing too. I think the athletes that were in Vancouver four years ago really noticed the difference because Twitter hadn’t really kicked off then – I think we tapped into that feeling left over from London 2012.”
The 2018 Winter Olympic Games will be taking place in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Jackson, who is a sergeant with the Royal Marines, knows his future will depend largely on the wishes of the marine corps.
He added: “With myself and Paula (Walker), our future really depends on what our bosses in the Navy and Army are going to allow us to do.
“They’ve let us do so much over the years and we wouldn’t be where we are today without them, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens with that, because our hands may be tied.”
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