Unfunded to Record Breakers
WHERE WE ARE
Team Hall are the number 1 bobsleigh team in Great Britain. Over the past few seasons we've established ourselves as one of the best bobsleigh teams in the world achieving countless World Cup medals and being ranked second in the world.
They are European Champions which is a feat never achieved by any British team as well as silver medallists in the 4-man at the World Championships in St Moritz 2023 which hasn't been achieved by another British crew since 1939. Currently ranked 2nd in the World in the 4-man event with the most World Cup gold medals of any bobsleigh team in one season and ranked 3rd in the World in the 2-man event. Being 3 years away from the next Winter Olympic Games in Beijing 2026 the team have gold medals in their sights.
However, to reach this stage it has been an extremely challenging journey with many obstacles in our way and the odds stacked against us. We've never given up and always pushed forward despite the circumstances and performed to the best of our ability. We've broken records and triumphed against the odds by creating a strong and sustainable team that can continue to reap success for years to come.
This is our story of hardship, survival and perseverance and it's far from over.
PATH TO PYEONGCHANG 2018
The preparation for our first Olympic Games was extremely turbulent. Severed tendons in the back of my hand, crashing out of my first World Championships and many problems within the British Bobsleigh organisation hung over us athletes and put us in the spot light to be scrutinised by the media about every mistake we made. We knew going into the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang that our future funding was at stake if we didn't win a medal.
This was something that us athletes knew we were not equipped to achieve. The £5,650,000 funded by UK Sport had been misspent and prioritised incorrectly leaving the athletes to compete with equipment that was decades old whilst our competitors were in brand new high-tech sleds that would leave us in their wake with ease. We finished 12th in the 2-man and 17th in the 4-man, far from our target.
TRANSITIONAL YEAR WHISTLER 2019
Despite this UK Sport decided to give us a year of transitional funding up until the 2019 World Championships in Whistler, Canada. During that year we struggled to be competitive again with our dated equipment even when Nick Gleeson and myself had the 2nd fastest starts in the World. We decided to start crowd funding to rent a competitive 2-man sled leading up to the World Championships and the results came instantly. After just one practice run in a brand new sled we finished 9th. The next races we were in another new sled and we placed 8th and 6th which built up our confidence and proved that our faith in our capabilities was always correct.
At the World Championships we knew the pressure was on us to perform. After 2 days of competition and 4 runs down the track we found ourselves in 4th place! Our best World Championships to date and the best World Championship result for Great Britain in 53 years. All this in a rented sled that was funded by the public and business' and organised by the athletes. We thought that finishing 4th under these circumstances was enough to secure us funding for at least another year. However, we were wrong.
FUNDING CUTS UK SPORT'S DEPARTURE
On the 5th April 2019 we found out our funding was completely cut which was a devastating blow for everyone. We had proved that we were World Class athletes and were capable of being competitive at the highest level but UK Sport still lacked faith in us. We knew that the only way we could continue our Olympic dream was to self fund ourselves, our season and find a way to invest in new equipment that will allow us to be competitive.
We started hunting for sponsors and were quickly successful with many sympathising with our situation. With the help of sponsors and supporters we purchased the 2-man we rented at the World Championships and bought a new 4-man sled. We knew we now had what we needed and we were prepared for our most successful season yet.
SELF-FUNDED AND SELF-MANAGED
As well as being self funded we had to self manage our own programme. This meant doing all the logistical and admin tasks of booking hotels, vehicles, season planning, budgeting, athlete selection and testing and everything else that a whole team of coaches would usually be responsible for.
In our preseason training we had many problems with two of our athletes needing surgery and would be out for the whole season and an injury to my rib looked like we might not even get out of the starting block this season.
Despite all this we started where we left off and our first 2-man World Cup race Greg Cackett and Myself finished 4th in La Plagne, France.
The following week we put in another record breaking performance winning a silver medal in the 2-man in Igls, Austria.
At the 2020 Altenberg World Championship's we finished with a 8th place finish in the 4-man with two rookie athletes on the sled, Taylor Lawrence and Luke Dawes.
We concluded our first self-funded season with an overall World Ranking of 6th place in the 2-man which is even more remarkable considering we missed 2 of the 8 World Cup races. It was a majorly successful season which was all made possible because of our sponsors and supporters that had faith in us when others didn't.
THE CURSE OF SEASON COVID 2020/2021
We approached the 2020/2021 season with a lot of confidence. Our two rookie athletes were more experienced, we had the return of Olympians Sam Blanchet and Nick Gleeson and the addition of German coach Matthias Bohmer and British Olympic Medallist turned coach Bruce Tasker to aid us. We knew that this season would be tough with all the obstacles COVID-19 would send our way however, we didn't know just how tough this season would actually be.
Pre-season training once again caused disruptions with an injury to my ankles leaving me unable to push effectively which led to us withdrawing from the first World Cup races in Sigulda, Latvia. We were also forced into quarantine due to a false positive test from our physio.
At Christmas tensions were high as if we travelled back to the UK it was unsure if athletes could make it back to Europe due to COVID regulations. A couple of us decided to stay in Germany over the festive period to ensure we could still race in the new year. We managed to race in the 2-man event in Winterberg, Germany but Nick Gleeson suffered a bad hamstring tear which meant we had to pull out of the first 4-man race of the season as our other spare athletes were also injured.
The next week we travelled to St Moritz, Switzerland with new optimism that our luck was bound to change. After a successful week of training, during our preparation for the 2-man race Sam Blanchet completely ruptures his achilles. As he was rushed to hospital Greg Cackett was forced to prepare to race in his place with minimal warm up time and a sled that was far under weight. We managed to claw back a 10th place finish but with another injury we were forced to forfeit the 4-man race once again.
A new week in Konigssee, Germany and more troubles arose with Luke Dawes being turned away from airports meaning he couldn't make it in time for the race. We were forced to pull Bruce Tasker out of retirement and race in the 4-man with us after 3 years out of the sport. He put in a spectacular performance and we competed in our first 4-man race of the season and finished 7th. In the 2-man we also finished a respectable 5th place.
This season was extremely tough and we had the worst luck of any bobsleigh team most people have known. However, we still pushed through and carried on week by week and managed to pull out some respectable performances this season. We knew that despite the set backs and hardships we are still capable of being competitive and when the bad luck turns to good the reins will come off and there will be nothing that can hold us back.
Going into the World Championships we knew our season had been far from ideal and our team was decimated. Greg Cackett had to return home for personal reasons and Nick Gleeson and Luke Dawes were rushed back into the team following injuries but we weren't giving up without a fight. The first day of 4-man racing didn't go to plan and it was clear that the team was struggling. We made the decision to withdraw from the second day of competition to prevent further damage to the team which is something none of us wanted to do.
THE WINTER OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES 2022
Preparations for the Olympic season were just as turbulent as the previous season. I had moved to Germany to train and plan for the season and Covid had disrupted any plans we had to have the training camps we needed.
We started off with the Olympic Test event in China which filled us with a lot of promise as we finished 2nd in the 2-man event. When we returned we began training at Altenberg and the team suffered a nasty crash which shook the team and damaged the sled which could have put the team's success in jeopardy.
Even with the crash we dusted ourselves off and we won a bronze and silver medal at the opening weekend of the World Cup schedule. Throughout the season we had won 5 silver medals and 1 bronze medal as well as being some of the fastest starters in the world. We were ranked 4th in the 4-man and 5th in the 2-man and felt we had a good shot at bringing home a medal in either discipline at the Olympics.
Preparations for the Olympics were very tough. Training was extremely frustrating and we struggled to find speed down the track like we did in the test event at the beginning of the season. We tried everything we could but nothing worked and we went into the races hoping everything would be alright. This however, was not the case. With some good starts and drives we still struggled to keep up with the other sleds and we finished 6th in the 4-man and 11th in the 2-man events.
This was far from what we wanted and what we knew we are capable of which left us frustrated and disappointed at the wasted opportunity. We knew we needed to take some time to evaluate our performances to find out what happened and how we were going to progress to ensure this wouldn't happen again.
OUR RECORD BREAKING SEASON 2022/2023
After our disappointment at the Beijing Olympics we then discovered our results at the Olympics and during the season were enough to win back UK Sport funding. This was a lifeline for us and allowed the whole team to not only continue competing in the sport we loved but also allowed us to focus on it solely and not have to worry about running our own programme as well. With the appointment of Graham Richardson as head coach a lot of things were changing but we were confident in his abilities and how he fit in with the team. However, we were worried this year would be a development season as we lost one of our best brakemen (Nick Gleeson) as he wanted to become a pilot. This meant we needed to bring in some new athletes to fill his place.
Despite having newcomer Arran Gulliver on the sled we managed to produce a World Cup season no British team has replicated before. We started off the world cup season with 2 silver medals in Whistler, Canada as well as second fastest starts. We then began to wonder what we were capable of achieving that season and I don't think any of us could have imagined what would come next.
More medals followed the next week with another silver in the 2-man event and then the last race before the Christmas break to team won their very first gold medal in Lake Placid, USA in the 4-man! After so many silver medals we had finally hit the top spot and this is when our thought processed changed. We now believed that we could be World Champions at the end of the season in Switzerland.
We continued with the success straight after the break winning a further silver and bronze in Winterberg, Germany and then a further silver and another gold in Altenberg, Germany in the 4-man! This gold medal was very special as the German team had won the 4-man race every year in Altenberg for the last 17 years and we were the first to break their winning streak. With the European Championships at the same track the following week we knew we had it all to play for.
It was a tight race and after the first heat only a few hundredths separated us from the Olympic Champion and at his home track we knew we had to give it everything we had. After a tough fought race we finished ahead and won Britain's first ever European gold medal!
We then moved onto the World Championships and after a hard fought battle we could only muster a 5th place finish in the 2-man. We turned our attention to the 4-man where we knew we had the most potential. From the first heat we put ourselves in medal contention and we were in the second place position overnight not far behind the Olympic and World Champion once again. We closed the gap over the third heat and we knew everything was going to come down to the final heat where we were only separated by a few hundredths of a second over 4 miles of ice. In the last run we didn't manage to close the gap but we still managed to finish as World Championship silver medallist which was the first time in 84 years a British 4-man crew had done something similar.
The whole season was record breaking. The first time a British team had won 3 World Cup gold medals in one season, the first to become European Champion and the first World Championship medal in 84 years. We amassed 11 World Cup medals as well which put us ranked 2nd in the World in the 4-man and 3rd in the 2-man.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR TEAM HALL?
The team is extremely motivated and determined to continue their success into the next season and leading up to the Winter Olympic Games 2026. Plans are already in place for our summer programme to get the team into the best shape possible ready to attack the podium once more to break more records and bring back more World Cup and World Championship medals.
There is still a lot of work to do between now and the 2026 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing but we are all looking forward to the challenge. To reach our goal of winning an Olympic medal we need as much help and support as possible and we are searching for sponsors. We need support to help advance our equipment to help give us a competitive advantage against our opposition as well as aid us in training camps and ice time to ensure we are at our best for when the time come.
If you are someone that wants to join us on our journey then please get in touch! We'd love to hear from you and discuss how we can work together towards the next Winter Olympic Games.