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Czech bobsledder shows deafness no barrier at Beijing Olympics
Bobsleigh teams begin their charge over the ice with encouraging shouts, but Czech Republic racer Jakub Nosek has to rely on his team-mates' "rhythm" at the Olympics.
The 32-year-old lost all hearing in his right ear and 85 percent in the other after suffering from meningitis as a small child.
That has not stopped him competing at the last two Winter Games as brakeman behind Czech pilot Dominik Dvorak.
They finished 15th in Tuesday's two-man event and hope to rank higher Sunday as part of a four-man crew.
All-rounder Nosek has represented his country in high jump, long jump, decathlon and javelin at three editions of the Deaflympics, for athletes with impaired hearing.
However, pushing a sled down an ice track requires team work, especially hard when Nosek cannot hear.
"The jumping into the sled is pretty difficult," said Dvorak.
"We’ve had the same rhythm for eight years so we know how to do it now."
Team-mate Dominik Zalesky says Nosek takes his cue from "our rhythm" at the start of each charge.
Some bobsleigh teams count to three in unison before starting.
Nosek is inspired by his family and the names of partner Aneta and daughter Viktorie are written on his race shoes.
He says the Covid pandemic, and wearing protective face masks, makes it much harder to communicate. "I read lips but I can't now."
He hopes to prove physical disability is no barrier to competing at an Olympics and blocks any negative comments.
"I hear everything -- except what I don't want to hear," he said.