GB bobsleigh faces huge funding cuts after woeful performances at Winter Olympics to round off year of turmoil

Ben Bloom
The Telegraph
Britain's bobsleigh teams underperformed - AFP
Britain's bobsleigh teams underperformed - AFP

Britain’s bobsleigh athletes are facing the prospect of huge funding cuts after woefully underperforming at the Winter Olympics to round off a year of turmoil.

Despite suggesting they had two sleds capable of reaching the podium, both British four-man teams failed to deliver in Pyeongchang, finishing way down the field in 17th and 18th after Sunday’s final runs.

Combined with a 12th-place finish in the two-man and eighth in the women’s event – from a pair of athletes who had their funding cut entirely just five months ago – the bobsleigh team fell well short of their minimum top-five target.

Major questions will now be asked of the £5 million invested in the sport in the years leading up to these Pyeongchang Games, especially considering they could not even find the money to cover the women’s programme due to financial mismanagement.

Greg Cackett, a brakeman in Brad Hall’s sled that finished 17th, said he hoped UK Sport would retain faith in the set-up and continue to give them the money to improve.

<span>Great Britain can always produce fast starts</span> <span>Credit: AFP </span>
Great Britain can always produce fast starts Credit: AFP

“No one is more disappointed than us,” he said. “This is our Olympics. We didn’t come here not to win, but we’ll take that – we’ve accepted that and we’ll move on.

“We know we can beat these guys because we have [before].

“We’ll take it forward and hopefully UK Sport will get behind us because so far they have done a terrific job.”

Hall’s four-man group said they were “baffled” by the poor performance of their sled, given they were consistently ranked among the best teams for push times at the top of the track.

“We were scratching our heads all week why it wasn’t coming down fast, despite the fact that we were pushing fast,” said Cackett.

“We knew on the day we had to do the best with what we’ve got.

Winter Olympics 2018: Best pictures from South Korea's PyeongChang games
Winter Olympics 2018: Best pictures from South Korea's PyeongChang games

“Imagine how frustrating it is with a great push, a great drive and then seeing that time come up.”

The poor Olympic performance caps a disastrous year for the British bobsleigh set-up, which has lurched from one crisis to another.

Last summer a host of athletes complained of “bullying, racism, sexism and discrimination” from their superiors in the camp, with three senior leaders leaving their roles over the next few months.

The British women’s pair of Mica McNeill and Mica Moore then had all their money axed and only made it to Pyeongchang after crowdfunding more than £40,000.

<span>Team GB lacked pace around the circuit</span> <span>Credit: PA </span>
Team GB lacked pace around the circuit Credit: PA

Hall, who is widely considered to be one of the most promising young pilots on the circuit, said the new leadership team have been fighting an uphill battle ever since the “abysmal” problems last summer.

“They made the best of a bad situation,” he said. “We’ve had a shoestring budget for this last season and that’s why what happened with the women meant they unfortunately didn’t have the funding.

“But the coaches have done a really good job with the little resources that we had this year.

“They didn’t have the time or the money to make any big changes.”

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