Walker gets clipped, and there's no penalty flag

February 19, 1992|By Bill Glauber | Bill Glauber,Staff Writer

ALBERTVILLE, France -- Where there was a Will, there was a way to push Herschel Walker off the U.S. Olympic four-man bobsled team today.

Walker lost his spot as the brakeman on the USA I sled after a joint decision by the team's coaching staff and top driver, Randy Will.

The running back who last season played with the Minnesota Vikings was replaced by Chris Coleman, 25, of Vestal, N.Y.

"Herschel was more than capable of doing the job," U.S. coach John Philbin said. "I think the decision was solely based on the driver's imput and preference for Chris Coleman to be on his brakes. They've been on the team for the last two years."

Walker, who moved into the brakeman position after his performance at last month's push-off in Altenberg, Germany, had been the only U.S. athlete to attempt to double in both the two-man and four-man competitions. He finished seventh in the two-man competition with driver Brian Shimer on Sunday in La Plagne.

"I've always said that I'm a competitive person and that I think the best team should be out there no matter who it is," Walker said. "I'm disappointed because I came here to compete. But I will always support the U.S. team, and I hope that we win a medal."

Will lauded Walker's athletic abilities, but said he wanted to reconstruct the team he raced with the last two seasons.

"You can't tear apart a team that has been successful and put someone on who has limited race experience," Will said. "Even though he's a great athlete, it's unfair to expect a miracle. I should have known this from the beginning. I know bobsledding and I've been in this sport eight years."

Coleman now rejoins his former teammates, Will, and side pushers Joe Sawyer and Karlos Kirby. Coleman won three straight U.S.brakeman push competitions from 1988-1990.

"I've done the best I could in training and the decision was out of my hands," Coleman said. "Herschel is a great athlete, but I'm ready to go and help this team win a medal."

Coleman switched to Will's sled on the fifth overall training run today. The sled placed seventh overall in the field of 40 entrants with a 59.37 second clocking. The USA I sled will have two more training runs tomorrow. Competition is scheduled to begin Friday.

"Herschel has done a great deal for the sport, not only with the media but with the team," Philbin said. "He's a very sincere, humble person."

But Walker's Olympics ended today, not in victory, but in defeat.

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