It was mission accomplished for Mica McNeil as she won her first British Title in only her second full time season in Bobsleigh. With no Paula Walker competing due to her regular brakewoman not being able to make the British Championships, … McNeil came into the Championships as the one to beat. McNeil did not disappoint as she put a comfortable margin between her sled and the rest of the field. Fastest start times as well!
This was only McNeil’s second British Championships but she does have a good record on the Igls track as she took bronze in the World Juniors here last year. McNeil just failed to make the cut for the Olympics but rather than being upset and dismayed by this, enjoyed watching the Games and cheering on the Team from her home in the North East.
“The aim was to win Paula Walker’s GB Title,” McNeil explained, “she was not competing today so the aim was to win that from the beginning of the week and to get my brakeman, the Best Brakeman award. Those were our two goals and we achieved them, so I am very happy.”
With eight sleds in total lining up in the woman’s two man, McNeil was unsure who her main competition would be. A lot of the sleds are new crews including two crews that were racing for the first time (Chaffey / Burnett and Smith / Pearson) as part of the Futures Programme that GB Bobsleigh have set up. The RAF had a crew in the race (Webster / Tisleton) and they finished in second place as well as Â Shone / Huxtable who crashed on the first run but both athletes were still in the sled when it crossed the finish line so they managed to pull themselves up to fourth after the second run just behind Alexander / Kay.
McNeil is a determined and courageous driver and is still learning the art and craft of driving. “My first run I was not so happy with, it was not the greatest drive I have ever done. I was a little disappointed when I got out at the bottom. We were still sitting in first so we were happy with that. We thought we would tidy it up for the second run and push it a bit harder. The second run was much better. That is the way I would like to end the season.”
All roads now lead to the Olympics in 2018 for McNeil. “I have four years to get in top shape and get as much experience as I can,” explained McNeil, “I will start in the summer again with getting back into shape.”
McNeil has only recently come into the sport and knows that she is still only learning the sport now: “It is a well known fact in Bobsleigh, the more experience you have, the better you get.” How does she feel that things are going, does she feel as though she is on target? “Yes, definitely, I tried to get to Sochi this year but did not make it. I had to be top fourteen in the World and I finished up 19th. Sochi was a dream that I was pushing for but the long term goal is the 2018 Games, that has always been the aim.”
With the long road to Korea starting, does McNeil feel that she will stay with Niki McSweeney? “I do not know as one week you can be with one brakewoman, the next another,” she explains. It is part of the process that GB Bobsleigh go through to find the best pairing and the changes are all part of the method to get the best team on the sled for the Olympics. “You do not know who you are going to be teamed up with,” explained McNeil. Who would her favoured pairing be? She smiles and says “The fastest one!”
Pictures from the racing are available on www.racer-ready.ifp3.com
Picture is of Mica McNeil and Niki McSweeney competing at the British Championships in Igls on 8 March. Credit RACER READY