Parents of world champion miss win

Eleanor Cooke with the offending computer
Eleanor Cooke with the offending computer

By Cara Sulieman
THE FAMILY of Scotland’s latest sporting sensation missed her winning moment – because their computer crashed.

Gillian Cooke’s parents, Eleanor and Philip, were waiting for news of their daughter’s result in the Bobsleigh World Championship when the internet crashed seconds before they received the news.

After fifteen minutes frantically trying to re-establish the link, the proud parents eventually saw that their 26-year-old daughter had won.

The couple couldn’t travel from their Edinburgh home to Lake Placid for the competition because of work commitments so logged on to chart Gillian’s progress instead.

Eleanor, a teacher, said that the time they spent waiting to find out the results was nerve-wracking.

She said: “We were watching the results as they were coming in. Then the computer just crashed. I think it must have been overloaded.

“We couldn’t control ourselves – we just had to find out how she’d done.”

And when the couple saw that Gillian and her partner Nicola Minichiello had won the gold they couldn’t control their excitement.

Eleanor said: “We couldn’t believe it. Gillian had never even heard of this last year, and she only got in a bobsleigh for the first time in October.

“Gillian was so excited. It’s a dream come true. None of us could sleep that night – Gillian was talking to us at five in the morning.”

Gillian after she won the championship
Gillian after she won the championship

The Scots bobsleigh career only started last year when she received a Facebook message from the British Bobsleigh Association inviting her to try out for the team.

After a successful athletic career in which she set records and won medals, Gillian thought she may as well try out the bobsleigh event.

Gillian said: “I found out that my training from the long jump meant I was well suited for the bobsleigh.

“Although I was picked for the team after only a few speed trials, I never expected to be this successful. It feels wonderful but it hasn’t really sunk in.”

The pair have become an overnight sensation, and fame has brought with it a few perks.

Gillian said: “We haven’t paid for a meal since our win. The first night we were in a local restaurant and a British guy picked up the bill. That was really nice.”

The duo have made history as the first British women and the first British team since 1965 to win the event.

And now Gillian and Nicola are concentrating on training for the Winter Olympics in Canada next year, where they are hot contenders for Gold.

And her proud parents will be behind her every step of the way, even if they had a slightly sceptical view when she first told them about it.

Eleanor explained: “It just came out of the blue. She told us she was answering an ad on Facebook and asked what we thought. We just laughed and said we’d seen Cool Runnings!

“But we told her to go for it. She absolutely loves it now. We’ll have to plan a celebration when she gets back.”