22 Feb 2014

Maximum bob: GB’s four-man team vies for Sochi success

After two disastrous performances in the last Winter Olympics at Vancouver, John Jackson and Britain’s four-man bobsleigh team will be hoping for greater success at Sochi this weekend.

John Jackson and Britain's four-man bobsleigh team (Reuters)

Bobsleigh has been contested at the Winter Olympics ever since the inaugural games in Chamonix, France in 1924 – with the exception of the 1960 games in Squaw Valley, when the organising committee decided not to build a track in order to reduce expenses, writes Becky Horsbrugh.

The Olympic bobsleigh competition consists of four runs which take place over two days. The winner is the team with the lowest overall time from the four runs. Men compete in two-man and four-man competitions, while women only have two-women in a team.

John Jackson has been a sergeant in the Royal Marines commandos since 1996, specialising in injury rehabilitation in his role as a physical training instructor. He took up bobsleigh in 2005 at the age of 28 and since then has juggled the sport with his Marines life.

Read more: Sochi 2014 Olympic Games

Main British driver

He made his world cup debut as a driver in 2007, and the following year was crowned the British champion. At the Europa Cup in St Moritz in 2011 he won gold and two bronze, a success that ensured he was made main British driver for the British bobsleigh team.

The 36-year-old as lead pilot claimed a fifth-place finish at the 2013 World Championships, and his four-man crew also secured the first World Cup medal by a British men’s team since 1997 when they took silver at Lake Placid in December 2013.

His participation in Sochi looked in doubt in July last year when he tore his Achilles tendon in training. The injury can often take 12 months to heal. However, thanks to pioneering surgery, he returned to light running after just three months.

This is Jackson’s second Olympics – and he will be hoping for greater success in Sochi. In Vancouver four years ago, he suffered a terrible crash in the two-man bob, and he and Dan Money were disqualified. Then, in the four-man event, his sled toppled on its side during its second run and the team ended up finishing 17th overall.

His girlfriend Paula Walker is also competing at the games, in the women’s bobsleigh event.

Men's bobsleigh at Sochi

22 February - four-man heat 1

22 February - four-man heat 2

23 February - four-man heat 3

23 February - four-man heat 4

Becky Horsbrugh is a producer for Channel 4 News