First 4-man medal for 84 years
Great Britain are celebrating a first 4-man bobsleigh World Championship medal since the Second World War after Brad Hall, Arran Gulliver, Taylor Lawrence and Greg Cackett won a stunning silver in St Moritz on Sunday afternoon.
No British 4-man team had been on the World Championship podium since Frederick McEvoy piloted the team to silver in Cortina in 1939 but Hall and co finally ended the 84-year wait with an outstanding performance at the birthplace of sliding sports.
The British quartet clocked a combined time of 4 minutes 20.3 seconds to finish tied with Latvia’s Emils Cipulis and 0.69 seconds behind Germany’s double Olympic Champion Francesco Friedrich, with arguably the greatest bobsledder ever claiming his fifth successive 4-man World Championship crown.
Hall, Gulliver, Lawrence and Cackett were never outside the top three fastest starters and they came down 0.74 seconds clear of newly crowned 2-man World champion Johannes Lochner, who was the first sled outside the medals.
Having sat 0.2 seconds behind Friedrich overnight, they closed the gap to just eight hundredths of a second after the third run before the German pulled away in the final heat in Switzerland.
"It’s an incredible achievement & I’m really proud of the team," said Hall, who becomes just the fourth male pilot to lead Great Britain to a World Championship medal.
"It’s been a hell of a long time since a 4-man crew has won a World Championship medal. To be the ones who have bucked that trend is pretty special.
We knew we could make the podium but we still had to go out there and perform, and we did that - just like we’ve done all season, to be honest. It’s an awesome result.
"We would have loved to win gold, and we knew we had that in us, but we have to be happy with silver - it’s an historic result and not something many people would have given us a chance of doing a couple of years ago.
"We got so close to Friedrich after Run 3 and we thought gold could be on the cards but, fair play to the Germans, they pulled it out of the bag in the final run.
"The guys have been exceptional all week and all season, and so have Graham (head coach Graham Richardson) and Leon (reserve athlete Leon Greenwood). We’ve got a really talented group with a great work ethic and spirit and I love being a part of it.
"We’ve had an amazing season so far & we want more next week in Igls - we want that overall 4-man World Cup title. We’re so close to making it happen."
The medal is a first in either men’s discipline since 1966 when Olympic Champions Tony Nash and Robin Dixon took bronze in Cortina. Only female athletes Nicola Minichiello and Jackie Gunn (silver in Calgary in 2005) and then Minichiello and Gillian Cooke (gold in Lake Placid in 2009) have seen the Union flag raised at a World Championship medal ceremony in the last 57 years.
Hall and his team have now taken their medal tally this term into double figures, with today’s historic World Championship medal added to no fewer than nine medals on the World Cup circuit.
They head to Igls in Austria tomorrow for the final two 4-man races of the World Cup campaign in a Saturday and Sunday double header. They are currently tied at the top of the standings with Friedrich and co and are on the verge of a first overall World Cup medal since the mid 1990s.
Today’s medal comes a week after British Skeleton won silver and bronze in the team event and nine days after Matt Weston was crowned World Champion in the men’s competition.