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Monday, June 24, 2024

Brad Hall interview: British Bobsleigh king bids to continue German giantkilling at World Championships

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efore his untimely death, former Olympic bobsleigh champion Steve Halcomb used to like to say that beating the Germans at Altenberg was the truest test of the sport.

Two weekends ago, Britain’s four-man bobsleigh team became the first nation to beat the powerhouses of the sport on their home track in 17 years. And a week later, they repeated the feat on the same track to become the first British crew in history to win European gold.

It has the makings of an icy revision of the David versus Goliath story. Last season, driver Brad Hall and his crew had to come up with money by any means to keep afloat. Now, they have ditched their side hustle as salesmen to focus solely on competing thanks to an injection of £1.8million to fund British Bobsleigh for the next Olympic cycle.

While it seems like a sizeable pot of cash, it is estimated that the Germans spend in excess of a million a year on their research and development programmes alone.

Hall and his crew of Aaron Gulliver, Greg Cackett and Taylor Lawrence sit in the unlikely top spot in the World Cup standings and this weekend Hall begins his ambitions for World Championship gold in both the four and two-man bobs.

Of the St Moritz track where the Worlds take place, Hall tells Standard Sport: “Historically, it’s not one that we’ve done particularly well at but neither was Altenberg. So, there’s no reason why we can’t do it.”

Hall and his team will hit speeds near to 100mph on the track. It is an adrenalin rush that, he says is unmatchable, anywhere else in his life.

“There are some tracks that knock you around and throw you around,” he said. “You try to calm down and drive down it, to try to make it as smooth as possible. When you get to the bottom, you sometimes feel like you’ve played 90 minutes of rugby straight. The smoother the better.”

While the results have been excellent this season, things don’t always go to plan. In the two-man at the last Olympics, he ended up on his head when he flipped over, a not uncommon predicament outcome in the sport.

“That can be quite scary,” he says . “We didn’t perform as well as we wanted to, it left a lot to be desired. But that increased the motivation to make sure we’re ready for redemption. Back then we had to do everything behind the scenes, now we can just focus on performance.”

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The funding has transformed things but Hall makes the point that, “we’re still on a much smaller budget than some of the biggest teams in the sport and the money only gets us to the startline”.

Hall and his team are not getting carried away by their results.

In St Moritz, they are merely focusing on their performance first and foremost. In their eyes, the Germans are still the favourites but, with the caveat, says Hall, “that we’ll give them a good run for their money”.

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