Fear prompts bobsledders to quit Olympics - CNN.com
CNN) -- Tom de la Hunty took Dutch bobsledder Edwin van Calker to the Whistler Sliding Center track one last time Tuesday and asked his driver if he could do it.
He wasn't asking him to win; he was asking him whether he could compete. The coach and his pilot walked the course, and de la Hunty told van Calker to think about it, giving him an hour to make a decision.
Time offered no healing. Van Calker told his coach he just couldn't drive this track and so on Wednesday the four-man No. 1 sled from the Netherlands pulled out of the Olympics.
Because their driver was terrified.
"I've never seen someone get to a major event and not compete because they're scared. You keep your inner fears to yourself and do it," de la Hunty told reporters at a news conference. "That's why it's such a popular sport in the military. It's that kind of macho sport. You go over the top together."
Van Calker, ranked 11th on the World Cup four-man tour, crashed on his first run during two-man practice on Saturday. That and the memories of other crashes, including one that resulted in two teammates in the hospital, were too much for van Calker.
He never felt comfortable on the track during the two-man competition when he and teammate Sybren Jansma finished 14th. He and the rest of the four-man team were absent from two training runs on Tuesday, as he struggled with what to do. It didn't help that eight sleds crashed on that first day of training.
And so that night, he made the decision to give up.