Bobsleigh - Fasser ends his long wait for Olympic gold

Ekkehard Fasser’s route to bobsleigh success was an unusual one, to say the least. The Swiss had started out as a track and field athlete, competing in high jump, long jump and shot put. But, in his twenties, he turned his attention to the bobsleigh and immediately showed a natural talent for the sport.

Picture by Getty

His problem was that the Swiss already had a very strong team, so he had bide his time. Fasser’s Olympic debut didn't come until 1984, by which time he was already into his thirties. He had recently won a world championship gold as a member of the Swiss four-man team, and the quartet arrived in Sarajevo as favourites but failed to make the podium, finishing fourth.

Patience had come to be Fasser’s byword, and he persevered, earning selection for the 1988 Games, along with Kurt Meier, Werner Stocker and Marcel Fässler. This time they were not expected to win, which perhaps worked to their advantage.

Fasser knew that this was probably his last chance of an Olympic medal. After the first run, it appeared to be slipping through his grasp, as the Switzerland-1 crew finished just seventh fastest, with the East Germans well ahead. But the Swiss were third best on the second run, and then enjoyed a remarkable descent in the third, producing the fastest time as the East Germans endured a terrible run that saw them slide down to 13th overall. The Swiss now had a 0.16 second advantage at the top of the leaderboard with one run to go.

Once again, they were slower than their East Germans, but only by 0.09 seconds, which was enough to hand them victory. Fasser had finally become an Olympic champion at the age of 35, and was able to bow out on a high.