From aerospace companies to Formula One teams Stuart Benson has called on expert advice in a bid to help Britain win their first Olympic bobsleigh gold for 50 years – it just won’t be easy on the eye.
Benson will get his maiden campaign up and running today (Saturday) as he joins super-human pilot John Jackson – he’s defied medical advice to recover from a ruptured Achilles suffered in July – in the four-man bobsleigh.
At 6ft 5ins Benson is not only the tallest of the crew of Jackson, Bruce Tasker and Joel Fearon but also the biggest on the entire British team and they sought the very best to ensure that his frame gives them a distinct advantage in Sochi.
They visited aerospace experts BAE Systems and Formula One outfit McLaren to talk aerodynamics and, if their results leading into the Games are anything to go by, it appears to have worked wonders.
Historic World Cup and European Championship silvers were won in December and January to leave Benson, who is from Troon in Ayrshire, confident of picking up where Tony Nash and Robin Dixon left off in 1964.
Nash and Dixon won two-man gold in Innsbruck while Britain’s last Olympic bobsleigh success was Sean Olsson’s four-man Nagano 1998 bronze – although Benson admits they’ve ditched being glamourous to medal themselves.
“I think being the tallest member of the team is an advantage in terms of aerodynamics. We did a little bit of work in the winter at BAE Systems in Preston and with McLaren,” said Benson.
“We did a lot of sitting still and moving positions and it turns out that the way we sit in the sled, Jacko’s helmet takes up a bit of room and then progressively we can form a nice aerodynamic shape behind the driver.
“I am second, I am right behind him. Aerodynamics is not always about looking pretty, there is a certain way it works that might not be obvious to the naked eye.
“So that fact that we did a bit of testing, it seems to help that I am second in the sled. I think if I was fourth it might be a different story.”
And Benson insists, given the nation’s history in the sport of bobsleigh – Brits built the famous Cresta Run in St Moritz in the late 1800s, medals should be considered serious business not one-offs.
“From my point of view there is history of British sliding,” added Benson. “So for me it almost looks obvious that we should be always competing for a medal or at least a top finish.”
© Sportsbeat 2014