ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - Olympic bobsleigh champion Kaillie Humphries has some bad news for her rivals: she believes the last four years have only made her stronger.
The Canadian is back with team mate Heather Moyse - an all around athlete who plays for the national women's rugby team and has also represented her country in track cycling - to defend their 2010 Vancouver title at the Sochi Games.
No title has been defended since women's bobsleigh was introduced to the Olympic program in 2002, but Humphries and Moyse aim to change that.
"They say it takes eight to 10 years to build a really good bobsleigh pilot. I am at year eight right now so I feel like I am finally understanding what that means and coming into a different position," Humphries told reporters on Wednesday.
"It's one thing to reach the top and get there," continued the 28-year-old multiple world champion. "And Heather and I had developed a kind of process in order to do that.
"But to stay there we really had to come together stronger than ever. She's grown individually, I've grown individually and its comfortable coming back together with the base that we have."
In Vancouver, there was the pressure of home expectations. While that will not be the case in Sochi, there is now the pressure of living with the tag of defending champions.
Humphries said the last four years had helped her get used to her new standing.
"Heather and I had talked a lot about this season and it is completely different going into this Olympics versus Vancouver. I think that's an advantage," she said.
"Really, it comes down to keeping it as simple as we possibly can for both her and I. So we push as hard as we can, I drive the track the very best I can and the results will be there.
"We understand and we've grown and (I've) had this four years to really learn and develop as a pilot being in that pressure situation. I think I've done a pretty good job," added the Calgary native.
Moyse had hip surgery in November 2012 and said recovering from that had been a challenge.
"I have had a bit of self discovery in the last few years, realizing that I thrive better and am more motivated when the challenges seem bigger or almost insurmountable" she added.
"So knowing I had these goals to come back to rugby and bobsleigh in an Olympic season, they were huge. It was really motivating for me and has just carried me through all the rehab."
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)