McNeill and McSweeney win bronze in Bobsleigh World Junior Championship

Igls, Austria. Twenty-four hours before the race, the GB Bobsleigh Performance Director Gary Anderson, sat looking at the times from the girls two man bobsleigh training. “We could get a medal here,” he said quietly. “I would never predict an athlete to get on the podium,” he continued. With some of the top Junior bobsleigh athletes in Igls for the race; this was a tremendous performance by the 18-year-old Mica McNeill (Durham) and 22-year-old Nikki McSweeney (Buckinghamshire).

After training the British bobsleigh was seeded third behind the powerful two German sleds. The Swiss and Russians trailed in behind the British.  While the Germans were expected to dominate the podium, to lead the rest of the field shows the strength of British bobsleigh at the moment. McNeill is some six years younger than the leading German driver yet is considered by many of the International coaches to be one of the best drivers in this age group.

“We came down in third place after the first run,” explained McNeill after the race, “so we went third last on the second run. You don’t have a clue as how you have done until you have crossed the finish line. When we crossed the line we looked up and saw we had taken the lead. I tried to scream but there was nothing, just so happy,” McNeill explained. “It was amazing seeing the flash of the number 1.”

With brakeman Nikki McSweeney giving the team a great start on the second run, third fastest, the team had a six hundredth of a second advantage over the Swiss from the first run. With each split time, the lead was extending. The extra speed generated from the start helped extend the lead over the Swiss all the way down.

Watching in the finish, Gary Anderson saw the “1” appear on the timing board and then was able to relax. The future of GB Bobsleigh is looking good. This was very much a team performance as the Junior Boys team supported and encouraged the girls at the start.

This is a great start for the British team: the boys two and four man team race at the weekend.