St Neots athlete Joe Bradbury has decided his future may lie in hurtling down an icy track at 80 miles an hour – face down on a hi-tech tea tray.
The winter sport of Skeleton might not be everyone’s idea of fun, but for the Bedford & County Athletics Club runner it is the tiny sled that is offering him the chance of Olympic glory in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in 2018.
The 20-year-old sprinter is currently being assessed by the Power 2 Podium scheme after watching Briton Lizzy Yarnold win the women’s skeleton gold at Sochi in Russia last year – and he is now down to the last 40 from an 1,000 original candidates to be trained up for the 2018 or even the 2022 Games.
“I took part in the first phase of trials at Lee Vally Athletics Stadium in London a few weeks ago,” said Bradbury. “I received the fantastic news on Friday to say that I was through to phase two out of four phases along with approximately 40 other male hopefuls.
“This next phase will be held in Bath on the dry push track. This will take the numbers down to eight and I am now in hard training in the hope of making it through to next phase – and then on to Norway for the real test on ice.”
Bradbury logged on to the British Skeleton website after watching Yarnold and was greeted with an advert for the scheme. He was one of more than a thousand to sign up.
“Six hundred were asked to attend trials at three locations around the UK and we had to do a range of five gruelling fitness tests, one of which was a 30m sprint,” he said. “I am fortunate my sprinting coach at Bedford is Alan Watts and he has already trained two athletes to Team GB standard. They were basically testing to see if your body was right for the skeleton.
“It is a tough sport with you going down an ice track head first without any great protection at speeds of 80 mile per hour and with maximum G-forces of 5g – controlling the sled with a combination of body weight, head position, knee, shoulder and feet movement.
“Phase two will extremely tough as I will be competing against Team GB athletes and ex-Team GB Athletes. Rumour has it that Greg Rutherford [the Olympic long jump gold medallist] is going for it.”
The fact that Bradbury, who is good friends with the boxer Tommy Martin, has still to actually get on a skeleton is neither here nor there.
Should he get through the next two phases, Bradbury will become more than acquainted with the tiny sled.
So – do you perhaps harbour any dreams of Olympic glory?