Ex-sprinter Craig Pickering to make bobsleigh debut in Germany

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter
Pickering ready for Bobsleigh challenge

Former Olympic sprinter Craig Pickering will make his debut for the British bobsleigh team at this weekend's World Cup in Koenigssee, Germany.

Pickering, 26, only began full-time training with the squad last month and only pushed a bobsleigh on ice for the first time on Monday.

"I'm excited to be taking part in my first competition," said Pickering.

"I have been working hard all week with the coaching team on the technical aspects of the push."

Pickering, who will partner GB pilot and Vancouver Olympian John Jackson in 'GB 1' this weekend, continued: "This is very much a long-term process, with the end goal being to put the team in the mix for a medal [at the next Winter Olympics] in Sochi."

Pickering, who competed in the 100m and sprint relay at the Beijing Games in 2008, is now in contention for a place at this month's World Championshipsexternal-link in St. Moritz, Switzerland after impressing the selectors with his efforts in training.

"Craig is a long-term project, the objective being to integrate him into our World Cup squad and be ready for the Olympic qualification," said GB Bobsleigh performance director Gary Anderson.

"He has worked really well this week, but he has only been on the ice for a matter of days so we are being reasonable in our expectations."

Anderson continued: "He deserves his selection and I believe it will be the start of a very successful bobsleigh career for Craig."

Another athlete appearing in a first World Cup fixture will be 2012 Youth Olympic silver medallist Mica McNeill.

The 19-year-old has won four medals in Americas Cup races over the winter and she will be joined in 'GB 2' by Sarah Adams.

Gillian Cooke, who won World Championship gold alongside Nicola Minichiello in 2009, will miss the event in Koenigssee after failing to fully recover from a back injury sustained when her bobsleigh, piloted by Paula Walker, flipped on their final run in Altenberg last week.

Cooke is expected to recover from her back injury in time for this year's Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Championships, which run from 21 January to 3 February.

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