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Irish bobsleighers gear up for Games qualification

WINTER OLYMPICS: For the Irish women's bobsleigh team the holidays ended early with qualification for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver very much in mind.

"Just 20 teams will qualify and we are currently 20th," says Aoife Hoey, driver with the team. "We have two more competitions and we must maintain our position."

Hoey's sister Siobhain, a former Irish bobsleigher and many times Irish triple jump champion, will take up the role of chef de mission for the team travelling to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver next month.

Before Christmas, the Irish women twice finished in the top 10 at the European Cup series and placed 22nd at the World Cup event in Winterberg.

Also in contention for places on the Irish team in Vancouver are skiers Toss Foley and Kirsty McGarry who competed in Turin, rower Paul Griffin who has taken up cross-country skiing, and skeleton sledder Pat Shannon. Already inside the B-standard for slalom skiing is Paul O'Connor from Malahide.