PyeongChang 2018 via the Youth Olympic Games - Q&A with Mica McNeill

Mica McNeill first burst onto the scene at the age of 18, winning bobsleigh silver alongside Jazmin Sawyers at the Innsbruck 2012 Youth Olympic Games (YOG). Six years later at PyeongChang 2018, she made her full Olympic debut as Team GB’s pilot as McNeill and namesake Mica Moore secured Great Britain’s best-ever finish of eighth in the women’s event.

Here, the 26-year-old talks about her career to date and reveals how her experiences at YOG prepared her for life as a world class athlete.

I’ve always been really sporty since I was young – I played county hockey, county netball, county athletics – I just loved sport.

I was 16 and still at school at the time and I went along to a ‘try something new day’ with Nicola Minichiello – the world champion at the time. She said at the end of the session that I had some potential in bobsleigh so she invited me along to a trial and it all stemmed from there.

Did you envisage getting into bobsleigh when you were younger? No, not at all. I didn’t even know what bobsleigh was until I got invited to go to the taster day. That’s when I actually YouTubed it to find out more about it – I hadn’t even seen Cool Runnings! With you only starting bobsleigh at 16, this must have been a quick turnaround to compete at the Youth Olympic Games? It was a really quick turnaround. I went down to trials, where I first got sent out on the ice and it was the following winter when the qualification process for the Youth Olympics started. I was still learning how to drive and brand new tracks at the time so I was a complete novice, but most of the competitors at the Youth Olympics were at the same level. Everyone was in a similar position where they’d only been doing bobsleigh for a year or so. Did you go into the Games with any personal ambitions? I’ve always been really competitive and wanted to win, but at the same time, I was still learning and wanting to know more about the sport. I knew that the Youth Olympics would be a great building block for me going forward onto the senior squad, but I did really want to win a medal. When we did medal, that was the first big milestone of my career. What did winning silver at the Games do for your career? From winning silver, it gave me a feeling that I had a future within the sport. The silver medal allowed me to progress – the federation then saw potential and invested time/resource into me by taking me to new tracks, learning how to drive at these new tracks. I managed to make my way onto the senior squad the year after the Youth Olympics, despite being one of the youngest members of the team. Did you experience anything at the Youth Olympic Games, that you took on board when you went to PyeongChang 2018? It gives you an insight into the whole Olympic environment. You learn this base about how the Games work with the transport, venues and accreditation. From this, I knew exactly the type of things to expect when I went to PyeongChang. When did you first think about having aspirations to compete at a senior Games? When I got back from the Youth Olympics, it really hit me that I desperately wanted to go to a senior Games. Following YOG, the year after, it was pre-Sochi year and I was learning all these new tracks and competing on the circuit. Unfortunately in the very short period before the Games, I couldn’t qualify for Sochi as I wasn’t quite ready. However, it did give me the drive to push myself through the next six years and work hard to get to PyeongChang. What are your goals for the season and looking ahead to Beijing 2022? My goals over the next two seasons are to continue progressing and becoming ready to win a medal at Beijing 2022 – that is the ultimate goal