Their national bobsleigh program clearly wasn't blessed with abundant funding and support, but their hearts were enormous, and they won ours completely. The Japanese women set a decisive (albeit unofficial) record for the most crashes in training. Any way you do it, flying down a track on your head at 140 km/h is frightening and painful. It's part of the sport of bobsleigh... at any track... but to do it more than once has reduced some pretty tough men to tears and caused them to withdraw from competition. The Japanese girls dusted themselves off and stood up smiling, every. single. time. Petite, girly, irrepressibly optimistic ... and tough as nails.
Anticipating a rough ride, they used a temporary cowling in training:
and had to make a few repairs along the way:
Things were so shaky, the FIBT (international governing body for the sport) told them they really didn't have the required skill to compete, but if they insisted, they'd have to sign a waiver. Which they did without hesitation, and proceeded to lay down four successful runs in competition, proudly displaying their sled in all its glory.
After every run, they exchanged high fives:
and accepted the wild cheers of the crowd with much bowing and unbridled enthusiasm:
The Olympics isn't just about determining the best in the world - at its heart, it's about testing the limits of the human spirit, overcoming overwhelming odds, finding the best that is in you and doing it with grace and style. Manami Hino and Konomi Asazu qualified on all counts.