Cackett insists Beijing just the start for Britain's bobbers

The underdog story of the British men’s bobsleigh team is far from over. 

That’s according to brakeman Greg Cackett, whose push starts made Team GB among the fastest off the blocks at the Winter Olympics. 

A 10.24-second sprinter, quicksilver Cackett combined with Brad Hall, Taylor Lawrence and Nick Gleeson to finish sixth in Beijing. 

There was no piece of precious metal to mark the end of the best season for a British sled in living memory, but the Games was worth its weight in gold. 

“I feel a genuine mixture of pride and what could have been,” said the 32-year-old. 

“I know we’re an exceptional crew, so I think we should be number one. There are these intangibles in bobsleigh, where it’s hard to put your finger on why you don’t have speed. 

“We won loads of World Cup medals this season and I’m super proud of that, everything came together this year. 

“To not quite do it at the Olympics is a shame and something I’m still processing, but the season was great and really showed where we can be in Milan. 

“We’ve got plans to recruit this summer and bring in new athletes. It’s all go - there’s certainly no resting on our laurels.” 

Cackett’s second Olympics was a world away from the first, when he finished 17th in the four-man competition with Hall as pilot. 

The Surrey native combined with Hall for two World Cup medals in the two-man sled, including silver at last October’s Test Event on the Olympic track in Yanqing. 

When it came to Beijing selection, Nick Gleeson was preferred for the seat behind Hall in the two-man.  

After dramatically overturning the sled in their third run, Hall and Gleeson made a miraculous recovery to lose almost no time and finish 11th. 

“It was tough for me to not be selected,” said Cackett. “But we’re so tight as a 4-man crew and there was never any question of me throwing my toys out of the pram. 

“That was just never going to happen. Whoever they picked was going to do a good job and Nick did a great job. 

“I was shocked to see the boys go over but I was really proud of the way they bounced back. They both came into the four-man absolutely firing.” 

Cackett was a coiled spring when it came to the four-man, starting on the penultimate day of the Games. At one stage it looked like all that preparation time could have derailed him. 

“I was a bit jaded in the first week and I was a bit concerned about my Games,” he said. 

“I was knackered. I knew I’d made it to the Olympics but I didn’t feel very happy about it, so I needed to get my head straight. 

“I settled into the Village and in the end it was a positive we were there for so long because I settled in really well. 

“The Team GB staff were so cool and made us feel at home - I adore every one of them.” 

When his time came, Cackett produced four world-class pushes to get his team off to the best possible start. 

His starts in the four runs were clocked at 4.89, 4.88, 4.92 and 4.94, which in three cases were bettered only by eventual gold medallist, Germany’s Francesco Friedrich. 

Perhaps borne out of his background in athletics, Cackett has a complex relationship with individual and team performance. 

“Someone asked me the other day about this, ‘would you have preferred a couple of top eight or top ten pushes but with a medal?’ 

“I still don’t know the answer to that because what am I more proud of? Do I want the medal, or am I more proud of my personal performance because of the work that went into it? 

“As brakemen we joke about the start being the only thing we care about, we don’t care about the downtime, that’s the pilot’s job. 

“But obviously we do care because we want to win medals and those things. Top two starts aren’t to be sniffed at.” 

Cackett plans to assess his future in sport on a year-by-year basis and has already committed to competing next season, targeting the 2023 World Championships. 

Whether or not he returns to Team GB for a third Olympic appearance and a crack at Milan-Cortina, Cackett has enjoyed the ride so far. 

"My career will come to an end sooner rather than later,” he said. 

“When I returned to bobsleigh after PyeongChang, I made a bit of a pact with myself that I would soak up every second of it and leave the sport with the greatest memories. 

“So far, at least, I'm on track for that. It would have been nice to get the Olympic medal, but I've certainly got plenty more to be grateful for." 

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