Future stars start skeleton careers
The latest group of potential Olympic skeleton stars have started their sporting careers in Bath this week.
After answering the call for potential Olympic gold medallists for the Milan Cortina Games in 2026, a total of seven young women have made it through to the full-time training phase of selection that precedes a three-week trial on ice in November.
Close to 250 hopefuls put themselves forward for the fast-track scheme that aims to take athletes from novice to Olympic Champion in just under four-and-a-half years, with applicants going through extensive physical testing combined with individual interviews, sport specific coaching and individual/group dynamic assessments over a three-month period.
“To get to this point has taken a lot of drive and energy and a huge thanks must go to everyone who bought into the vision and project plan presented in March,” said British Skeleton’s Head of Talent, Research and Innovation, Danny Holdcroft.
Thank you to all those who made the initial campaign launch possible and gave us critical media coverage; to the staff who have operationalised the selection process and driven the project forwards at an accelerated pace; and, crucially, to UK Sport for their continued support, backing and belief in our long-term strategic vision for sustaining success into the future.
The group, who range in age from 17-22, began training in Bath on Monday under the guidance of Performance Coach and Project Lead, Mitch Smith, and over seen by Holdcroft, and now have their sights set on their final challenge and first sliding camp, where they will be joined by experienced ice coach, Mattahius Biedermann. The final selection will see four athletes continuing full-time before entering the international race circuit in 2022.
The level of applicants from across the breadth of the country was very impressive and selection to this point has been the hardest of any of the recruitment campaigns that we have run to date.
"Having now reached the point of a select group starting full-time training in Bath, the air of excitement around the whole project and the journey that we are going on is at its greatest and the focus is about supporting each athlete individually to give them their best opportunity of earning the right to go for gold in Milan Cortina in 1636 days’ time,” added Holdcroft.
The seven selected athletes are:
Abigail Peake (19) from Cheddar, Somerset
An undergraduate student at Plymouth University and a 100m and 200m sprinter and former 200m age group national champion who has represented England in this discipline.
Ashlyn Bland (22) from Bishop Auckland, Northumbria
A graduate of Loughborough University and a 200m & 400m athlete who has represented England over 400m.
Baryiat Eyiowuawi (21) from Welling, Greater London
A graduate of Birmingham University and county and national level athlete.
Cara Brown (22) from Nottingham, Nottinghamshire
A qualified physiotherapist and graduate of Sheffield Hallam University. A County champion and a club and university athlete.
Eleanor Griffin (22) from Luton, Bedfordshire
A graduate of Bristol University and a former county and national 100m athlete who medalled in rowing at the BUCS Championships.
Isabella Fassnidge (17) from Sevenoaks, Kent
Currently studying A Levels and a county level athlete who finished sixth at the National Championships.
Kelsey Stewart (24) from Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire
A graduate of the University of Aberdeen and a former 400m National U23 Champion who has represented Great Britain at both Under 20 and 23 level.
All will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Olympic medalists Lizzy Yarnold and Laura Deas, both of whom came through a similar recruitment scheme in 2009 before tasting global glory in 2014 and 2018.
The dream of Olympic success isn’t over for those who missed out on selection this time around, either, with many of those who made it through the first couple of phases encouraged to apply for the Home 2 Games campaign currently running in conjunction with UK Sport and the English Institute of Sport. The closing date for that campaign is midnight on September 6, with applications accepted via https://www.fromhome2thegames.com