Adam Hames only did his first bobsleigh run at Bath University last summer but just six months later, at the sport’s inaugural mononbob event in Lillehammer, the 15-year-old from Loughborough won his first international medal.
He was one of four British sliders to reach the podium in Norway in December where he finished second for silver. The other three medallists were Ben Lynch, Annabel Chaffey and Kelsea Purchall – winning two bronze medals and another silver between them.
Their success was the best possible start to GB Bobsleigh’s new youth training programme which was launched just a few weeks earlier, not least because it came on the same track that in just over a year’s time will host the next Winter Youth Olympic Games. The new monobob format will see its Olympic debut at those Games and if December’s results are anything to go by, there is a decent chance we could see a repeat of the success that Mica McNeill and Jazmin Sawyers enjoyed at the very first Winter Youth Olympics in Innsbruck in 2012, where they won a silver medal for Team GB in the women’s two-man bobsleigh.
Adam says he would love to be back in Lillehammer next year but for now, “It was an honour just to be selected and to go out and compete for my country.
“It was amazing to take a silver medal in my first ever race! I only started last summer with training on the push track at the GB Bobsleigh headquarters at Bath University where I was coached in perfecting the correct technique of the initial push, which is probably the most important part of any bobsleigh race.”
Karate was Adam’s main sport before this and after representing England several times he recently became the Wado-Kai European champion – so he is no stranger to the rigour of training and competitions. But as he discovered in Norway, there is still a lot for him to learn when it comes to this thrilling winter sport.
“I knew how to start but needed to learn how to steer the bob which was a totally new experience. I had to memorise the track so that I was also mentally prepared for what I was about to do. I also learnt to make sure I put down my visor before setting off, as on my first run of the actual competition I flicked up the visor to take on some last minute advice from the coach, but forgot to put it down again. This resulted in having to complete the course with my eyes streaming from the cold and wind!”
The Russians were touted as favourites before the race because they had had the advantage of training on the track in Sochi, which unlike the one in Bath is actually made of ice! But as Adam explains, “After GB dominated the medals in both the men’s and women’s events [in Norway] we are now recognised as the leading nation going into the next series of races.”
He added, “I have got off to a great start but need to keep fit and train hard to maintain my position in the team. Karate helps with my general fitness, stamina and sharpness but I need to especially focus on my sprinting to help improve my start times.
“Of course I must thank our coach, Lee Johnston, and pathway manager Lauren Forrow, who must also take great credit in helping our achievement along with Rob Heagarty our physiotherapist.”
Looking ahead to his plans for the rest of the season, Adam hopes to be able to put the £1,000 of funding he has received from SportsAid towards more monobob competitions in Königsee, Germany, and St. Moritz, Switzerland. The next big goal will be to represent Great Britain at the 2016 Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, but after that, what’s next for the talented young slider?
“My long term target is to medal at the Winter Olympic Games in 2022,” he adds.