British bobsleigh aces Nicola Minichiello and Jackie Davies returned to the UK today (Tuesday) proudly clutching the silver medals they won at the Bobsleigh World Championships in Canada.
The Team Bath pair, who both train at the University of Bath, became the first British women’s bobsleigh crew to win a World Championships medal and the first British crew to win a Bobsleigh World Championship medal since 1965.
They missed out on gold in Calgary by just 0.28 seconds over four runs at a feat that was all the more remarkable as the pair only teamed up at the start of this season.
Nicola and Jackie now have their sights firmly set on next year’s Winter Olympics in Torino.
“It’s fantastic, we’re so pleased that it all came together,” said Nicola. “We would have been pleased with a top six position and absolutely ecstatic with a top four, so to get a silver in the World Championships is a dream come true.”
Jackie, the crew’s brakeman, said: “We were really fired up for it. We always believed in ourselves and we knew if everything went right for us we could do well.”
“We’ve been on the track at Calgary before and we knew that this was one of our best chances to get on the podium this season,” she added.
Tom De’La-Hunty, Performance Manager and Head Coach of the British Bobsleigh Association, paid tribute to the hard work and commitment of Nicola and Jackie that helped them achieve World Championship silver.
“It’s just a stunning result,” he said. “It’s a very, very tough and demanding sport and they are two of the best athletes in the sport at the moment. They are incredibly dedicated.
“We know they’re one of the fastest starters and an improving team, and this result gives them a real launch pad for an assault on an Olympic medal next year,” he added.
Nicola and Jackie carried out some of their preparations for the bobsleigh season on the 125m push-start track at the University of Bath, which is also used by bob skeleton athletes like Kristan Bromley, reigning European champion and another medal prospect for Torino 2006.
The pair finished just 0.28 seconds over four runs behind German winners Sandra Kiriasis, silver medallist at the 2002 Winter Olympics, and her brakeman Anja Schneiderheinze at the Calgary World Championships.
The British pair produced four consistently fast runs – two second fastest and two third fastest runs – in Calgary to claim their medals with a combined time of 3:43.29 seconds.
Nicola, who is 26-year-old, starts a new job as a physical education teacher in Sheffield tomorrow (Wednesday). She is a former heptathlete who represented Great Britain at the 2001 World Student Games. She took up bobsleigh at the tail end of that year and began driving in the 2002/3 season.
Jackie, currently serving with the Army’s Royal Signals Regiment, is a former rugby player and has represented the Army at both rugby and athletics. She is 27 and from Birmingham, but is currently based in Aldershot.
The pair easily won the British Championships at Igls in Austria in January. They both competed as brakemen for British crews at the 2002 Winter Olympics before teaming up this season.
Twenty three crews took part in the World Championships in Calgary.
The University of Bath has one of the leading university sports departments in the UK. Under its TeamBath brand, its success is based on its staff’s expertise and dedication, and its excellent facilities, used by the community and Olympic medal winners alike.
Also, the University’s Sport and Exercise Science group, part of its School for Health, was rated best in the country by The Guardian for its sports research and teaching.
For further information please contact the Team Bath Press Office at Matchtight Ltd on (01225) 383518 or see the Team Bath website.