ANNA Alexander-Holmes finally feels comfortable calling herself a bobsleigh pilot after a stunning British Championship debut saw her return from Austria with two medals and a trophy last weekend.
The 19-year-old, from Holt, is part of British Bobsleigh’s Futures programme and after raising the funds to hit the ice in Igls last weekend, the former St Laurence School pupil claimed a bronze medal in the women’s event, alongside brakewoman Anya Kay on her competitive debut.
University of Bath student Alexander-Holmes also claimed a gold medal as the top athlete from the Futures programme, as well as being handed this year’s Novice Driver award, which was won by Trowbridge’s Sochi 2014 Olympian Paula Walker on her British Championships debut in 2008.
“It’s been a crazy few days because I honestly expected to go out there and finish last,” said former heptathlete Alexander Holmes.
“Before the start of the race, everybody was at the top of the track hyping themselves up, especially the men, and I just didn’t know what to do with myself.
“When we got to the bottom, they read out the names of who finished fourth and I couldn’t believe it when it wasn’t us. Then, when they said that we were third, I just started crying.
“Everyone was saying ‘well done’ and I just couldn’t believe it. Then, on the plane home, we were sat alongside people who’d competed at the Olympics and I was thinking ‘I can’t believe I’m sat next to Bruce Tasker (Sochi 2014 men’s GBR1 crew member)’.
“I feel like I can really call myself a bobsleigh pilot now and that’s nice.
“The Futures programme people have got to push things forward now because we’re not young any more and we’re the ones that are going to take the legacy of Sochi forward.”
Men’s GBR1 pilot John Jackson and his Winter Olympics crew of Tasker, Joel Fearon and Stuart Benson brought the curtain down on their season as they triumphed in the four-man event in Igls, and the Trowbridge-based star took silver in the two-man race alongside Keith McLaughlin.
Wiltshire butcher Steve Cook, whose family business Walter Rose & Son sponsors Jackson and Walker also had a run down the Igls track behind the Paxcroft Mead pilot.
Walker was brakewoman for the run and Cook, who has shops in Trowbridge and Devizes, said: “Paula and John were great hosts to us and terrific ambassadors to the sport. Even more credit to them now that I have seen first-hand what is involved.’’
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