Pickering relishes bobsleigh challenge

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FORMER Royal Latin student and 100m runner Craig Pickering is relishing his new career after swapping the athletics track for bobsleigh.

Pickering, 26, was once regarded as one of Britain’s brightest young prospects in the athletics world after first coming onto the scene in 2003 when he won the 100m bronze medal at the World Youth Championships.

In the 10 years that followed, Pickering has struggled to break through to the very top of sprinting and, as a result, has decided to give bobsleigh a go – although he will continue with his sprinting career.

He said: “I got into it through my training partner who did bobsleigh and my coach also did some of it so I gave it a go.

“I’m not a natural at it but I’m quite quick so it helps a lot, it’s one of the key attributes you need to be good at bobsleigh.

“It was a little bit scary going down the bobsleigh for the first time but we have a good driver so it was good fun. I was positioned at the back.

“Strength and speed is key because a bobsleigh weighs 200 kilos so being powerful and having strength and being quick is a massive advantage. I would like to do better than I am at the moment but I really am enjoying it.

“I’m still doing athletics, I’ll do that in the summer and keep it going with the bobsleigh stuff in the winter.”

Pickering, who has a personal best of 10.14 seconds in the 100m and 6.55 over 60 metres, missed out on London 2012 with a back injury and was forced to have an operation in March to remove disc fragments that were pressing on his nerves, which stopped him from competing.

But Pickering, who grew up in Milton Keynes and went to school in Buckingham, is fit and ready for 2013.

He added: “I had back surgery in March but it’s all fine now and it feels much better – it’s not a worry any more.

“Obviously it was disappointing to miss London 2012 but I knew since January that I wasn’t going to make it so that made it a lot easier to get over.

“There’s a lot of hard work that goes into athletics and bobsleigh but the training’s pretty much the same as running and bobsleigh are similar. We train twice a day and we’re away on the bobsleigh circuit for six weeks.

“Competing at four World Championships and an Olympic Games are the highlight for me so far in my athletics career but I have a lot left.”

Last month it was announced that Pickering would join the Great Britain bobsleigh team with the target of reaching the 2014 Winter Olympics.

In his first ever event, Pickering – along with pilot John Jackson – finished 19th in the World Cup, which earned him a place in the World Championship squad.

“My first ever proper go in the bobsleigh was a few weeks ago at the World Cup,” he said.

“We came 19th and now we’ve got the World Championships coming up and I’m looking forward to that. The target is just to compete as well as we can.

“Obviously the big target is the 2014 Winter Olympics next year, and for me the only real one aim is just to make the team and see what happens from there.”