FAST TO SLOW: John Jackson more familiar with explosive speed of driving Team GB’s bobsleigh,
FAST TO SLOW: John Jackson more familiar with explosive speed of driving Team GB’s bobsleigh,


Barnard Castle Bowls Club celebrated the start of the season on Saturday, despite the weather preventing any competitive action from taking place.

The ceremonial first bowl to open the calendar of the 114th season at the club was rolled by Olympic bronze medal bobsledder, John Jackson.

John, who swapped the slopes for the quaint setting of The Bowes Museum spoke before the opening bowl.

“It’s great to see everyone here today, I may have done well in my own individual sport in the past, but this is slightly more nerve wracking.”

Four generations of John’s family have been a part of the club and he turned his hand to the sport with ease as he bunched his four bowls round the jack.

John is the son of Julie Graham who played at Barney last season and grandson of longtime members Vera and Brian Carter.

Club chairman John Tallentire said: “We would normally have a game following the opening, but the weather has stopped us unfortunately.

“We are still really pleased with the turnout, the club is well supported and that’s been shown again today.”

The bowls club are hopeful to begin properly this weekend, but with the weather so unpredictable that will be judged on a week-by-week basis.

John Jackson

After taking up the bobsleigh at the age of 28, he won a place in the Europa Cup team and was soon selected to compete as a driver. He became British Champion in 2008 and was the first British man to win gold and two bronze medals in the Europa Cup in St Moritz in 2011.

Jackson’s meteoric rise through the ranks earned him the position as main British driver and ten years ago, he led Joel Fearon, Stuart Benson and Bruce Tasker to a silver medal in the four-man event at the Bobsleigh European Championship.

He competed at the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics, guiding his crew to fifth place in the four-man event in 2014, 0.11 seconds off a bronze medal after recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon. In 2017, the British team were upgraded to the bronze medal position after two Russian crews were disqualified for doping violations.

Jackson also competed at seven FIBT World Championships, finishing fifth in the four-man event in the 2013 world championships. He was second in the four-man competition at the Lake Placid round of the 2013-14 world cup, the first podium finish for a British crew for many years. Jackson retired from the sport in 2016.