The British Olympic Association (BOA) today announced that ten bobsleigh athletes have been officially selected for Team GB for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. They are among 33 athletes today announced for Team GB, and join athletes already selected from the sports and disciplines of curling, figure skating, short track, skiing and snowboarding, skeleton and biathlon, bringing the total Team GB size to 56.
The selected athletes are:
· John Baines (born; Middlesborough lives; Topcliffe, Thirsk) (GBR2 4-man)
· Stuart Benson (born; Glasgow lives: Bath) (GBR1 4-man)
· Lamin Deen (born; London lives: Withington) (GBR2 4-man, GBR1 2-man)
· Joel Fearon (born; Coventry lives: Bath) (GBR1 4-man)
· John Jackson (born; Barnard Castle lives: Trowbridge) (GBR1 4-man)
· Craig Pickering (born; Crawley lives: Bath) (GBR2 4-man, GBR1 2-man)
· Benjamin Simons (born; Broseley lives: Bath) (GBR2 4-man)
· Bruce Tasker (born; Manorbier lives: Bath) (GBR1 4-man)
· Paula Walker (born; Blackburn lives: Trowbridge) (GBR1 2-woman)
· Rebekah Wilson (born; Altrincham lives: Bath) (GBR1 2-woman)
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This season Britain’s bobsleigh performances throughout the FIBT World Cup Series has successfully earned Team GB four qualification spots for the bobsleigh events in Sochi. These include two men’s teams in the four-man bobsleigh, as well as one team in both the men and women’s two-man bobsleigh.
Great Britain 1(GBR1) pilot John Jackson, 36, has defied the odds in qualifying for Sochi - his second Olympic Winter Games - by making an unprecedented recovery from a ruptured Achilles he sustained last July, less than 8 months out from Sochi.
Following a rigorous routine of rehabilitation after surgery Jackson was able to join GBR1 and Sochi teammates Bruce Tasker, 26, Stuart Benson, 32, and Joel Fearon, 25, in competing at the World Cup’s. The quartet, who have only been competing as a unit since 2011, now have their sights set firmly on challenging for a medal in Sochi.
Britain’s second four-man team (GBR2) will comprise of Lamin Deen, 32, as pilot, John Baines 28, Ben Simons, 27, and sprinter Craig Pickering who competed for Team GB at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Deen and Pickering will also team up in the two-man event.
Walker, 27, and Wilson, 22, were former World Junior Champions together at Park City in 2011. The duo were reunited at the start of the 2013-14 season following the selection trials. Walker made her Olympic debut as a pilot in Vancouver 2010 and finished in 11th place on the notoriously fast track in Whistler. In Sochi, Walker will pilot Wilson at her first Olympic Winter Games.
Team GB have won four medals in bobsleigh since the sports introduction at Chamonix in 1924, one gold, one silver and two bronze medals. Most recent of those was at Nagano 1998 Winter Olympics in the four-man event, where Sean Olsson, Dean Ward, Courtney Rumbolt and Paul Attwood won a joint-bronze medal after they achieved the same combined run score as France. The Sochi Games also marks fifty years since Tony Nash and Robin Dixon won gold in the two man bob at the Innsbruck 1964 Winter Olympics.
Commented Sochi 2014 Team GB Chef de Mission Mike Hay:
"Bobsleigh has had its ups and downs this past year but ultimately gone from strength to strength and there is no better proof of that than the fact that we have qualified a second four-man bob for Sochi, the first time since Salt Lake 2002.
"I am particularly pleased for John 'Jacko' Jackson, who will pilot one of the four-man sleds after making an extremely impressive recovery from a ruptured Achilles he sustained last July, less than 8 months out from Sochi. The last of our sports and athletes in action, we will have to wait patiently until the very last day of competition to find out Jacko's fait."
Said Gary Anderson, Team GB Bobsleigh Team Leader and Performance Director of British Bobsleigh:
“Since joining British Bobsleigh after the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics our mission was to head to Sochi as the best prepared possible physically, mentally and tactically and I think we are in good shape.
“Fifty years ago Tony Nash and Robin Dixon won gold at the Innsbruck 1964 Games and I look forward to watching our crews challenging for the top of the podium again in Sochi.”
Commented John Baines:
“It’s absolutely amazing to be chosen to represent Team GB. Last week in Igls was true testament to the team, we all pulled together, coaches, staff and athletes to ensure we qualified two 4 man sleds to go to the Winter Olympics. I am looking forward to putting on my race suit, standing at the top of the track and racing for Team GB at the Olympics – that has always been my dream.
Commented Stuart Benson:
“"I am very proud to be selected to represent Team GB in Sochi 2014 and want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped me on my way to what will most certainly be the pinnacle of my sporting career. My journey does not end with selection, but at the end of the last run of the competition having left everything on the ice."
Commented Lamin Deen:
“To be selected to compete for Team GB at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics is fantastic. To compete at an Olympics was a dream of mine and it still feels like a dream. I don’t think it will feel real until I am on the start line in Sochi competing alongside my teammates in our Olympic kit!”
Said Joel Fearon:
“I have been blessed in so many ways in the past three years; from being given the chance to become a better athlete and work with some of the world’s best coaches, being given the opportunity to compete at some of the best sporting venues in the world, including the London 2012 Olympic stadium in front of thousands of British fans. To finding a beautiful woman, who agreed to marry me and share the rest of her life with me, and yet one of the parts that stand out to me the most is the time I first met my team. I am proud to be standing on the start line with Stu, Bruce and Jacko and together we will compete for Team GB at the Olympic Winter Games and do the nation proud.”
Said John Jackson:
"To represent Team GB for a second time is a great honour. What makes it so special for me is that the official team announcement comes exactly six months after a full Achilles repair operation. I'm looking forward to performing on the greatest stage, the highest level of competition with my teammates.
“We hope to make the United Kingdom proud in Sochi."
Commented Craig Pickering
“I only started competing in bobsleigh thirteen months ago, so to come from nothing to being selected to go to Sochi, it’s been hard work, but I’ve made it and I am excited to have been selected to compete for Team GB again. I’m looking forward to competing in Sochi, that’s why we do sport; to compete at the highest level and there is no higher level than the Olympic Games.”
Added Benjamin Simons:
“It means the world to me to be selected to compete for Team GB at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. It has been a tough journey, it came down to the last weekend of competition to qualify and now I am just looking forward to heading to Sochi and competing. The Olympics are the pinnacle of an athlete’s career.”
Commented Bruce Tasker:
“I'm very honoured to be selected for the Winter Olympics in Sochi. It has been a long and tough journey for which there are many people to thank. It has been difficult keeping the excitement at bay but now we have qualified and been selected I can really begin to enjoy focussing on performing my best at the Olympic Winter Games.”
Said Paula Walker:
“It fills me with great pride to represent Team GB once again. Eight years of hard work have gone into trying to be the best physically and mentally. I hope that we do our country proud in Sochi.”
Added Rebekah Wilson:
“To be selected for an Olympic Games is what every athlete dreams of. It has been an incredible journey to get to this point and to represent Team GB makes me feel immensely proud. For everybody that has taken this journey with me, this is for you. Sochi 2014 is proof that hard work pays off.”