An outstanding silver medal for British bobsleighers Mica McNeill (County Durham) and Jazmin Sawyers (Stoke) ensured that Team GB finished the first Youth Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck on a high.
The duo continued the tradition of British Olympic success on the same track that witnessed Olympic gold for Team GB’s Robin Dixon and Anthony Nash in 1964. Lying in fourth position after their first run in a time of 56.29 seconds, the pair produced a spectacularly fast second run of 55.56 seconds to move up the field and claim the silver medal.
The silver medal brings the British tally to three following gold and silver for Jack Burrows and Aydin Djemal respectively in the short track speed skating 3000m mixed nation team relay yesterday.
Amid emotional scenes of celebration at the finish line brakeman Sawyers said: “This is just an incredible feeling. To have been fourth after the first run and then produce when we needed it to secure a medal feels amazing. We weren’t happy with our first run, it was worse than our training runs so we didn’t know what was going to happen but the second one couldn’t have gone much better. We were really pleased, the push went well and before we even knew our place we were saying to each other that there was nothing more that we could have done. It feels brilliant to have a silver medal because we have trained so hard for this moment and we really need to thank all the coaches and support staff who have enabled us to go out and do this.”
McNeill, the driver, added: “This means everything to us. We’re trained so hard for this. It is incredible and words can’t describe how we feel right now. In the second run we just gave it everything we had and it worked. We didn’t expect to get second, we hoped for third, so when we came in we were so happy. This is the first step in our careers for bobsleigh and it means we’re definitely heading in the right direction and hopefully in the future we’ll keep progressing and stay on the same tracks. Hopefully this will be good for the sport of bobsleigh in Britain.”
Team GB’s second women’s bob team of driver Kirsten Emery (Derbyshire) and brakeman Frances Slater (Ware) finished just outside the medal places in fourth after posting times of 56.42 and 55.92 leaving them just 0.19 seconds off the bronze medal.
Emery and Slater said: “We didn’t have a good first run so to have had a great second one is just a great feeling. We would have been really disappointed if we had come here and had two bad runs.
To come fourth is never nice because you are missing out on a medal but it’s better than fifth and we’re so happy with our second run. We are proud of Jazmin (Sawyers) and Mica (McNeill) as well, we wanted one of us to get a medal and they’ve done really well. This is going to be huge for the sport and will bring a lot of publicity to it. This is definitely the biggest competition of my life so far, the support we had at the start was just fantastic. Bobsleigh is always close, you never know how it’s going to go until everyone is finished.”
In the men’s competition Team GB’s driver Oliver Biddulph (Bridgwater) and brakeman James Lelliott (Poole) finished fifth, just one tenth of a second behind the bronze medallists from Monaco. The British pair recorded 54.87 seconds in their first run, and an improved time of 54.54 seconds on their second run.
Biddulph and Lelliot said: “That second run was absolutely unbelievable. We wanted to come in the top six so we are more than happy with that. We got a personal best for our race time and a personal best for our start too so we are delighted. We got one of the quickest rides in the second run and we gave it everything and went as well as we ever have so we’re happy. We missed out on a medal by a tiny amount but that’s bobsleigh at the end of the day and we are happy with how we did. We are so pleased for Jazmin and Mica as well, they totally deserve that silver medal as they have been fantastically dedicated all the way through. It feels great to have taken the team out on a high on the final day. It’s a great result.”