Sochi Winter Olympics 2014: Mike Hay appointed Team GB chief

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter
Sochi - Winter Olympics 2014

Olympic gold medal-winning coach Mike Hay will be Team GB's Chef de Mission at next year's Winter Games in Russia.

Hay, a former international curler, guided the British women's team - skippered by Rhona Martin - to success at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City.

The 49-year-old received the unanimous backing of the British Olympic Association's (BOA) Board of Directors.

"It is an absolute honour to be asked to head up Team GB at the Sochi 2014 Olympics," said Hay.

"My passion is winter sport and my ambition is to make sure that every single member of Team GB can perform to the best of his or her ability."

During his career as a competitive curler Hay won five European titles and two World Championship silver medals.

He is currently the BOA's head of sport engagement.

Hay was director of Team GB's preparation camp in Calgary prior to the Vancouver 2010 Olympics and held the same role in Loughborough preceding Team GB's exceptional third-place finish at London 2012, where they won 65 medals.

Great Britain have never achieved the same level of success at the Winter Olympics, with Amy Williams' skeleton gold their only medal at Vancouver 2010. Their best haul, of four medals, came at the 1924 Games.

However, with the Scottish women's curling team recently securing Britain's berth for Sochi by claiming World Championship gold, skeleton world champion Shelley Rudman, leading slopestyle skier James Woods and short-track speed skater Elise Christie all performing well in recent months there is a belief that Team GB could attain significant success in Russia.

"We are not an alpine nation but I am very excited by the performances that we have seen this past season from our winter athletes," stated Hay.

"If everyone remains focused, fit and on form, we will be competitive in a number of disciplines with realistic medal opportunities."

Hay succeeds former BOA chief executive Andy Hunt, who stepped away from that role in February. Hunt was Britain's chef de mission at both the Vancouver 2010 and London 2012 Games.

The appointment, coming 301 days before the start of the Sochi Winter Olympics, is the first under the helm of Lord Coe, who took over from Lord Moynihan as the BOA's new chairman last November.

"Mike Hay is the perfect person for the job of Chef de Mission at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games: he is a former athlete, a former coach and a well-respected leader within winter sport, nationally and internationally," said Lord Coe.

"I know that Mike will deliver the best possible performance environment for our Team GB athletes in Sochi as he has already coached one team to a Winter Olympic gold medal - the women's curlers in Salt Lake 2002.

Coe continued; "He knows what it takes to perform and to be a winner."

Hay will lead the Team GB delegation of approximately 50 athletes and around 50 support staff for the Sochi Winter Olympics, which start on 7 February.