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
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Lettings Co-Ordinator / Administrator

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: These leading independent prope...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Representative - South West England

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest manufacturer of UPV...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Supervisor

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a well establis...

Recruitment Genius: IT Technical Support Engineer / Helpdesk Engineer

£16500 - £22500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to continued growth an exce...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy