Simons targets Pyeongchang pilot spot

02 November 2014 / 15:46

It’s been quite a few years for bobsleigh athlete Ben Simons but the Sochi 2014 Olympian is ready to throw himself into his next big challenge – training as a pilot.

A former 60m Welsh sprint champion, Simons only took up the sport in 2012 after seeing a British Bobsleigh advert searching for ‘future Olympians’ on his university noticeboard.

Fast forward two years and the 27-year-old made his Olympic debut in Sochi as a brakeman in the four-man GBR 2 team which finished 19th.

The aim is to improve on that in Pyeongchang in four years time, although Simons may well be taking on a different role in the team after being picked to undergo driver training alongside Sochi teammate Bruce Tasker.

“It’s three and a bit years until South Korea and I am sure it will fly by,”he said.

“But it’s going to be an interesting few years as I’ve been chosen for the driver acceleration programme.

“This year will be a bit of a hybrid season, concentrating on the driving the first half and then back to being a brakeman in the four-man for the build up to the Worlds in March.

“The last two years have been incredible for me. I initially applied for the talent scheme on a bit of a whim. I thought I’d give it a go and managed to do pretty well in the initial tests.

“We had such a torrid qualification period trying to get to Sochi so I did not want to let myself believe I was an Olympian until I was standing on those blocks but it was an amazing experience."

Simons’ first target will be trying to get the nod to drive in the two-man team in the opening Europa Cup race of the season in Igls from November 12-13.

And, while conscious of the hard work that awaits him on the road to Pyeongchang, Simons is confident he can rise to task ahead.

“Some of the best drivers in the world have been doing it for eight years, “ he added. “I’m going to have been doing it for three or four seasons by South Korea so it’s going to be a real accelerated process to try and get that driving spot.

“As a brakeman your main job is the six seconds at the end. You are really hyped up for the push start on the blocks, you see red almost, then you get yourself in and get down to the end.

“The driver has to stay calm on the push start and then most of the job starts when you get in.

“But we saw in Sochi examples of people who did it successfully in short amount of time like Latvia’s Oskars Melbardis winning silver as a driver in the four-man after being a brakeman previously.

“I’m quietly confident; I usually pick things up pretty well.”

© Sportsbeat 2014