Brad Hall: Bobsleigh ace finally building Beijing momentum

You know you are unlucky when even your rivals are feeling sympathy for you.

That was the case for bobsleigh pilot Brad Hall and his crew last season as they were beset by misfortune time and time again as injuries and Covid ravaged their campaign.

Self-funding only exacerbated every setback for Hall and Co, who were forced to pull out of the four-man event at the 2021 World Championships after being decimated by injuries.

But Team Bobsleigh Brad are nothing if not resilient, overcoming the many obstacles put in their way to establish themselves as one of the best in the business over the past few seasons.

And now with 100 days to go until Beijing 2022 and their injury troubles behind them, 2018 Winter Olympian Hall and his team are determined to live up to their potential on the biggest stage.

“Now it seems thing are really starting to get the ball rolling with being in Beijing,” said the 30-year-old from Crawley.

“There’s a lot of excitement around the team at the moment because it’s our first time out here with only 100 days to go. The Olympic season is just starting and we’re looking forward to getting going.

“Last season was incredibly tough, being away on circuit and fulfilling all the Covid obligations, it’s really hard especially for us as a self-funded team.

“We had so much bad luck last year, everything that could have gone wrong went wrong and we had so many injuries throughout the team, including myself and Nick Gleeson.

“Sam Blanchet ruptured his Achilles earlier in the year, we had people having positive Covid tests or false positive Covid tests and missing races because of a lot of different reasons.

“We actually got a lot of sympathy from the rest of the bobsleigh community because of just how much bad luck we had. We should have had some really spectacular results.

“Everyone knows that this year we are the ones to watch and a lot of the nations are scared of what we can achieve because we’re another high performing team.

“We should be up there fighting for the podium positions once we have a clean stretch and we’re looking really good going into the new season. The rest of my team are incredibly strong.”

Hall finished fourth at the 2019 World Championships in the two-man event with Gleeson just before UK Sport took the decision not to fund British teams for the Beijing 2022 campaign.

That meant the only way Hall and his team could continue to pursue their Olympic dream was to self-fund themselves, as well as managing their own programme and all the logistics.

But the British Bobsleigh & Skeleton Association recently announced that it has secured £40,000 funding from UK Sport to aid the British teams aiming to qualify for February’s Winter Olympic Games.

And having been given a timely injection of financial support, Hall hopes his team can now finally concentrate 100 percent of their focus on delivering their very best on the icy track.

“We’re definitely due some luck,” he said. “We completely lost our funding [in 2019] and since then we’ve had to raise all our own funds, organise our own season, do our own selection races and everything else.

“So for myself I wasn’t just an athlete I was a team manager, head coach, I was doing everything so that was a massive thing to try and get off the ground and get moving.

“Now we hope to really reap the rewards of that. Now we do have a lot more support from the British Bobsleigh & Skeleton Association with the new board that’s in place.

“We look forward to them supporting us through to the Olympics and I can focus on being an athlete and the best I can be.

“Hopefully we can turn that luck around and come away with a good season.”

Hall represented Team GB in both the two-man and four-man competitions in PyeongChang, piloting Joel Fearon to 12th place before driving Gleeson, Fearon and Greg Cackett to 17th.

Since then, Hall has been determined to improve on what he considered “very disappointing” results, even moving to Germany in the summer to bolster their chances.

That decision to up sticks, along with a track in Beijing that suits his eye, has given the pilot confidence that his team can compete for the medals against the formidable Germans.

“We’re looking to go to this Games not as participants but as real medal contenders and we’re all extremely focused and willing to do whatever we need to do to get there,” he added.

“Technically the track is very difficult but it’s not a dangerous track where there will be a lot of crashes, but there’s a lot of places where you can lose a lot of time which is great for us.

“We need a track that is difficult. The Germans are so far ahead in terms of their technology and research and development, their sleds are faster than anyone else’s in the world.

“If you give them an easy track they’ll walk away with the medals quite easily but this track, they can make quite a few mistakes and if we have a clean run and a good start, we stand a very good chance.”