Five pilots in World Championship team

Five pilots in World Championship team

Great Britain will have its largest contingent of bobsleigh teams at a World Championships for eight years later this month.

No fewer than five pilots and 11 brakemen and women have earnt the honour of representing the country at the showpiece event of the season in Germany between February 22nd and March 3rd.

Brad Hall, Taylor Lawrence, Greg Cackett and Arran Gulliver (pending fitness) are all selected once more, 12 months after winning the nation’s first 4-man World Championship medal for 84 years. Hall and his crew won silver in St Moritz last year and, despite an injury disrupted season so far, proved they remain in the medal mix this time around by winning bronze at the most recent World Cup 4-man competition in Lillehammer last month.

Hall will also pilot a 2-man sled as he looks to build on his fifth-place finish in that event with Lawrence this time last year.

Leon Greenwood is one of those in line for his first World Championship race appearance after being the reserve athlete last year when Hall, Gulliver, Lawrence and Cackett made history in Switzerland.

Whereas Hall’s crew were the only British Bobsleigh representatives at the 2023 World Championships, Adam Baird, John Stanbridge, Nikki McSweeney and Adelé Nicoll will all pilot GB sleds this time around. The last time the country had sleds piloted by five different drivers was in 2016 when Hall was joined by Lamin Deen (4-man), John Jackson (4-man), Mica McNeill (Women’s Bobsleigh) and Bruce Tasker (2-man) in Igls, Austria.

“We’re really pleased with the squad we’ve been able to select and we’re looking forward to showing the medal potential and strength-in-depth we have been building,” said British Bobsleigh’s Performance Director, Mark Silva.

Brad and his team have been gearing up to this point after significant injuries to Arran, Greg and Brad himself over the last few months and the progress they’ve made to be back challenging for podium places has been really impressive. That bronze medal in Lillehammer was a good reminder that they still have a realistic chance of becoming the first Brits to win medals at back-to-back World Championships since (Tony) Nash and (Robin) Dixon in the ‘60s (1963, ’65 and ’66).

“Adele is ahead of the curve in terms of the progress she’s made in less than two years as a pilot and Adam, John and Nikki have all worked incredibly hard to earn their place in the squad. We’ve also got an exciting pool of push athletes, many of whom are making their first appearance at a World Champs, and that bodes well for the future, as well as for right now.” 

Baird, Nicoll and Stanbridge are all making their World Championship debuts in their maiden top-tier seasons as pilots, while McSweeney hasn’t driven at the showpiece event of the year before but did compete as a brakewoman in 2013 in Moritz and 2015 in Winterberg.

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Adelé Nicoll will compete in both the Monobob and Women’s Bobsleigh

For Stanbridge, the World Championships will cap a remarkable comeback after he broke his neck in Altenberg in November 2022. A serving member of the Royal Air Force (RAF), the 33-year-old feared he would never slide again but has since enjoyed a superb season that has seen him finish fifth in the overall Europa Cup and place 14th in Norway on the second of his two World Cup starts this season.

Nicoll is in just her second season of driving having been the reserve brakewoman at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games but she has already medalled on the EC circuit in both Monobob and Women’s Bobsleigh. The reigning British Shot Putt Champion won EC gold with Kya Placide in St Moritz in mid-January, 24 hours after claiming silver in the Monobob at the same venue. She has two top ten World Cup finishes in the Monobob over the last two months and was ninth and 11th in her only 2-Woman races on the top circuit since the turn of the year.

Like Stanbridge, Baird has also impressed in EC events this season and was rewarded with World Cup starts in St Moritz and then Sigulda, while McSweeney finished fifth in the EC rankings and also has a pair of World Cup showings to her name this season.  Baird joins Lawrence as one of two Royal Marines in the squad, with Alex Cartagena a colleague of Stanbridge in the RAF.

Only Hall (six appearances), Cackett (four), Lawrence (three), McSweeney (two) and Gulliver (one), have competed at a World Championships before.

Three male brakemen and all four brakewomen are selected to a World Championship squad for the very first time, with debutants Jens Hullah, Ally Kay, Luka Williams, Risqat Fabunmi-Alade, Willa Gibb, Maddison Illsley, Cartagena and Placide completing the British line up.

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Adam Baird, Luka Williams, Jens Hullah & Ally Kay are all selected

British Bobsleigh World Championship team:

Brad Hall (2-man & 4-man)
John Stanbridge (2-man)
Adam Baird (4-man) 

Greg Cackett
Taylor Lawrence
Leon Greenwood
Arran Gulliver**
Ally Kay
Jens Hullah
Luka Williams

**fitness pending

Adelé Nicoll (Monobob & Women’s Bobsleigh)
Nikki McSweeney (Women’s Bobsleigh)

Kya Placide
Willa Gibb
Maddison Illsley
Risqat Fabunmi-Alade

This year’s World Championships take place in Winterberg, Germany from February 22nd - March 3rd, with the schedule as follows:

Thurs 22 Feb
Women's Skeleton Heats 1&2
Men's Skeleton Heats 1&2

Fri 23 Feb
Women's Skeleton Heats 3&4
Men's Skeleton Heats 3&4

Sat 24 Feb
Women's Monobob Heats 1&2
2-man Bobsleigh Heats 1&2
Skeleton Mixed Team Competition

Sun 25 Feb
Women's Monobob Heats 3&4
2-man Bobsleigh Heats 3&4

Fri 1 Mar
Women's Bobsleigh Heats 1&2

Sat 2 Mar
4-man Bobsleigh Heats 1&2
Women's Bobsleigh Heats 3&4

Sun 3 Mar
4-man Bobsleigh Heats 3&4

All races will be shown live on the IBSF YouTube channel and website