John Jackson has revealed the sea change in attitude towards the British bobsleigh team this season, insisting they achieved world-class status long before the past week.
British No.1 pilot Jackson led his four-man crew, which included himself, Stuart Benson, Bruce Tasker and Joel Fearon to an impressive fifth at the World Championships on Sunday.
Such a performance was arguably the best British men’s performance on the global stage since Sean Olsson’s four-man crew won bronze at the Nagano 1998 Olympics.
Jackson has improved drastically since finishing 17th in the four-man at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, going from 22nd at the 2011 World Championships to tenth in 2012 and now to fifth.
However he admitted anything outside the top six would have been met with disappointment in St Moritz after turning heads at the opening World Cup of the season in Lake Placid.
They finished seventh on that occasion and have been outside the top ten of the eight of nine races so far just one since, a fifth their best, with Jackson adamant they’re up there with the best.
“Certainly over the last few years we have been another one of those nations who just turn up and race,” said Jackson, who competed in five World Cup races last season, ranking 17th overall.
“But the first race this year everyone sat back and was like ‘wow, what have these guys been doing’. Well we have been training hard and they want to know where we have got our start from.
“Last year the guys were all brand new to the sport. We had new guys to the sport but we had a summer of training and a lot of strength and conditioning and now we are one of the best teams in the world.
“We were consistently up there in training at the worlds, having the best starts. We were up there in the mix and we are heading in the right direction and for me the season so far has been going pretty good,
“We already have a good World Cup team and people are coming in and improving on it. We are among the top three starters and one of the best in the world.”
Jackson’s claims are backed up by fact as at the World Championships in St Moritz their time of 1:05.46minutes on their second run was the quickest posted during that outing.
Only Beat Hefti’s Switzerland crew and Oskars Melbardis’ Latvian crew recorded quicker start times with Jackson, Benson, Tasker and Fearon clocking a best of 4.97seconds.
Almost half a second may have separated champion Maximilian Arndt and second-placed Alexandr Zubkov but Britain were just 0.07 shy of Olympic champion Steven Holcomb, who took bronze.
And Jackson believes thoughts of repeating Olsson’s performance from the Nagano 1998 Olympics and finishing on the podium at Sochi 2014 are completely realistic
“We would have been disappointed not to have been in the top six, we were looking at the podium,” he added. “The guys in front of us are top drivers and we are in the mix with them, within thousandths of a second.
“We finished in the top ten last year and we definitely wanted to do better and St Moritz is one of my better tracks as a driver. It is a fantastic track to drive.”
© Sportsbeat 2013