Injured bobsleigh star refuses to give up on Olympic dream
DALE bobsleigh racer Alan Toward insists injury and uncertainty will not put an end to his Olympic dreams.
The 27-year-old from Middleton-in-Teesdale suffered a devastating foot injury while competing for the GB team in the four-man event at Konigsee, Germany, just before last Christmas.
He suffered three broken metatarsals, the worst of which was a Lisfranc fracture – where the tendon pulls the bone out of place – simply slipping on the ice while helping to push the sled at the start of a race.
“I had an operation in January, was in a full cast for six weeks and a boot cast for another six weeks before four weeks of rehabilitation,” said Alan.
He faces a second operation to remove a metal plate, but with the current coronavirus pandemic, he is unsure when that may take place.
“I am back walking without pain. I can't do too much but I am starting to get my fitness back.
“The surgeon said there was no guarantee I could get back to what I was, but I am going to push hard to get back to full fitness.”
If and when Alan regains full fitness, he will then have to earn his place back in the bobsleigh squad, which suffered an injury ravaged start to last season.
Firstly, pilot Brad Hall was sidelined following a crash on the ice and when he returned, Alan and fellow brakeman Sam Blanchet were forced out through injury.
Replacements Luke Dawes and Taylor Lawrence then helped Brad Hall and Greg Cackett to two top ten finishes – Hall's best four man placings for more than two years.
“It’s been a big life lesson in how things can change in a matter of seconds,” reflected Alan.
“I do hope I can get back. My goal has always been to get to the Olympics, but if I can’t, unfortunately that’s just performance sport.
“I have spoken to Brad and he is relatively happy with how the season ended and looking to build for next year,” he added.
In the meantime, Alan – who was working as a supply teacher and coach before embarking on his bobsleigh adventure – secured a post as head of athletics at Sedbergh School, in Cumbria, prior to the lockdown.
“It was quite difficult in a cast – I have just been doing what I can,” he said.