Winter Olympics 2014: Former sprinter Craig Pickering forced to miss Sochi Games after back injury rules him out of bobsleigh event

Pickering admits he is 'devastated' to miss the competition after suffering a L3-4 acute disc prolapse in his back

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The Independent Online

Craig Pickering’s wretched sporting career took another unfortunate twist on Friday when he was forced to pull out of the Winter Olympics. The former sprinter was due to compete in the two- and four-man bobsleigh but a back injury suffered at the team’s pre-Games training camp in Germany ended his hopes of becoming a dual Olympian.

Pickering had also missed the London Games with a back injury before switching sports. He did compete in the Beijing Games as part of GB’s 100m relay squad but was responsible for the error that led to the defending champions being disqualified in the heats.

After his London disappointment he successfully switched sports and was set to become only the eighth athlete to represent Britain at both Winter and Summer Olympics . He had been part of John Jackson’s No 1 sled before voluntarily dropping down to Lamin Deen’s second sled. That threatened his double dream but Deen qualified his sled at the final World Cup meeting last month.

The two crews have been preparing in Königssee, where six days ago the 27-year-old Pickering injured his back. He returned to Sport England’s Bisham Abbey centre for treatment but in vain.


“Having missed out on competing at the London 2012 Games due to a back injury, I am devastated to have suffered a similar fate just days before the start of the Sochi,” said Pickering. “We worked so hard to qualify the GBR 2 sled for the Games and I’m gutted that I won’t be on the start line with Lamin, John [Baines] and Ben [Simons].”

A replacement will be named shortly. It is likely to be Andrew Matthews, another former sprinter. During his track days Matthews, a  European junior gold medallist, was coached by Linford Christie. He is set to replace Pickering in the four-man with one of the GBR2 sled crewmen doubling up in the two-man.