Pickering and mix: Sprinter Craig takes on bobsleigh runs

Indoors specialist aims for summer and winter Olympic double as he makes it into Britain's two-man bob team, writes Simon Turnbull

These must be disorientating days for Craig Pickering. For three years in a row, he was the star of the show at the indoor athletics international match in Glasgow on the final weekend in January. In 2007, fresh out of the junior ranks, the Milton Keynes sprinter blitzed to victory in the blue riband 60m, beating his celebrated training partner Jason Gardener and shooting to the top of the world rankings, clocking 6.55sec.

The following year he won again, and in 2009. But this Saturday, as the event moves across town from the Kelvin Hall to the Emirates Arena, the former sprinting prodigy will be conspicuously absent. Indeed, as Dwain Chambers gets to his mark as the home representative in the 60m in the British Athletics International Match, Pickering will be getting ready to roll down the Celerina Olympic Bobrun in St Moritz.

Less than a month after swapping the athletics track for the bobsleigh run, the 26-year-old will be putting himself on the line in the World Championships. Partnered by pilot John Jackson in the two-man bob on his World Cup debut in Konigssee, Germany a fortnight ago, Pickering finished 19th.

It proved sufficient to earn the novice brakeman selection for the British team in the global championships in Switzerland this Saturday and Sunday.

"I think it's been made quite clear that I'm going into the World Championships more for the exposure to competition than anything else," Pickering says. "I'm not quite good enough yet really.

"I don't mind. I've sort of been thrown in at the deep end. I'm still learning the sport – learning how to push properly and things like that. Although I'm not amazing yet, it's coming along reasonably well."

The ultimate aim for Pickering is to become a winter and summer Olympian. Having competed in the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi became an alternative target for the Loughborough University student after he missed out on selection for London 2012 because he was recovering from a back injury and was subsequently dropped from Lottery funding.

"I definitely want to go to the Winter Olympics," Pickering says. "That's one of the main attractions about coming across to bobsleigh. There's a long way to go before I make it anywhere near good enough yet, though."

Pickering, runner up to Gardener in the 60m at the European Indoor Championships, is not the only summer Olympian attempting to make the crossover. Hurdler Lolo Jones and her US team-mate, sprinter Tianna Madison, have both turned to bobsleigh this winter, as has Jana Pittman, the former 400m hurdles world champion from Australia.

Not that Pickering has turned his back on track and field. He still has unfinished business in a career that has been frustrated by injury.

"I'll be going back to it next summer," he says. "I think the bobsleighing could help me. It's all acceleration based stuff. The training's exactly the same. And it's a new experience. It's mentally refreshing."

Not to mention, a little bit scary, perhaps? "It is, the first time you do it," Pickering says. "After that, it's fine. You get used to it."

Having been told last March that he needed an operation to remove disc fragments that had been pressing on the nerves in his back, Pickering had time to get used to the idea of missing out on the home Olympic experience. It didn't stop him enjoying the spectacle.

"It was great to see Greg Rutherford win gold in the long jump," he reflects." We're club mates and I know Greg really well. It kind of brings home to you that normal people can be successful."

Spikes to slopes: Other changers

Marcus Adam

Won 200m gold at 1990 Commonwealth Games before competing in two-man bobsleigh event at 2002 Winter Olympics for Great Britain, finishing 10th.

Allyn Condon

Won World 4x100m relay gold medals for Great Britain, before competing in 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver in the bobsleigh.

Lolo Jones

Picked up World Indoor Championship medals for 60m hurdles for the US, and went on to finish second in her first World Cup bobsledding competition in 2012

Jason Gardener

Won multiple indoor 60m golds before finishing sixth in British Championships in two-man bobsleigh.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Barnardo's: Corporate Audit and Inspection – Retail Intern (Leeds)

Unpaid - £4 lunch allowance plus travel to and from work: Barnardo's: Purpose ...

Recruitment Genius: Content Writer - Global Financial Services

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Receptionist

£15000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future