Alan's back in action thanks to bobsleigh backers
By Stuart Laundy - Senior Reporter
DALE bobsleigh racer Alan Toward will be back in action after his team secured enough backing to ensure they could compete across Europe this winter.
UK Sport cut all funding for the British bobsleigh men’s and women’s teams at the end of last season.
Despite recording some of the best GB performances in decades, none achieved a podium finish – the benchmark set by UK Sport for funding through to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
That has led to a hectic summer of fundraising led by pilot Brad Hall, who has assembled a five-man crew, including Alan, for this winter’s campaign.
Alan, from Middleton-in-Teesdale, said a number of sponsors had come forward to cover the costs of individual travel and competitions as well as providing new equipment.
“It wasn’t just about raising the money to go away. There was no point going away if we were not going to be competitive,” he said.
“As a result, we have got new equipment for this season and should have what we need to get the job done this winter.”
Alan, Brad and the crew will head for Lillehammer, in Norway, at the end of October for a training camp ahead of the first competition towards the end of November.
Before Christmas, the team will compete in the Europa Cup two and four-man bob competition. In the new year, the crew will line up for the World Cup, which begins in Winterberg, Germany, on January 3, with competition continuing until February.
The season then culminates with the World Championships in Altenberg.
Alan said there had been a lot of uncertainty surrounding the future of British bobsleigh after funding had been withdrawn.
As well as the financial aspect, the sport’s governing body, there had been a shake-up at British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association, while the team had lost their mechanic and coach.
“It’s been quite a time of change over the summer and I did not know how much I could commit due to the financial situation,” said Alan.
Against this background, training for the new season began in August at the bobsleigh team’s Bath base.
It will be Alan's second season with the team and he said the signs were looking positive.
“I have done some tests at Bath and started a lot better than last year, so physically, I should be okay. It’s a positive outlook, but we need good performances to attract more sponsors. None of us are getting paid any more – we've got to have the results,” he said.
A new website detailing the crew's efforts to compete this winter has been set up – www.bobsleighbrad.co.uk.
Potential backers or anyone requiring more details can contact the crew via the website.