Bobsleigher Nicola Minichiello announces retirement

Former world bobsleigh champion Nicola Minichiello has retired.

She and Gillian Cooke became the first British women to win the world title in 2009, but the duo crashed out at the Vancouver Olympics a year later.

Minichiello now takes up a role as head development coach at the International Bobsleigh Federation (FIBT).

"Bobsleigh is right at the bottom of a big development phase - we're in a slightly different place and I think it's the right time," said Minichiello.

"I've been involved in elite sport for over 17 years and for me this is a decision that I have thought long and hard about."

Minichiello came to bobsleigh in 2001 after starting her sporting career as a heptathlete.

She competed at the last three Winter Olympics and won silver at the 2005 World Championships before going one better with Cooke four years later in Lake Placid, New York.

However, with hopes high at the 2010 Winter Olympics, Minichiello and Cooke crashed on the third of their four runs - leaving Minichiello "absolutely devastated".

She underwent leg surgery last year and lost her place as Britain's number one driver to rising star Paula Walker, who won the world junior title in February.

The British women's bobsleigh team received a hefty funding increase from UK Sport last December, gaining £2.4m in financial support over the coming four-year Olympic cycle.

Minichiello's success partly explains why the women benefited from UK Sport's annual review, while the men's team now receives no support from the funding body.

"It's fantastic to be the most successful British bobsleigh athlete of the modern era - it's been a journey," Minichiello told the BBC.

"I've been doing lots of work in schools recently, working on the youth side. We set up the British youth squad 18 months ago to get more people involved, and now I've got the opportunity to do that at a more global level."