Ryan Bailey becomes the latest sprinter turned bobsledder

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After sustaining a hamstring injury at the USA Olympic trials in the heats of the men’s 100m, Ryan Bailey’s chances of competing in his second Olympic games were dashed. Yet the American sprinter is now turning his focus towards the bobsleigh.

The sprinter has an excellent chance of making the USA team according to the USA Bobsled and Skeleton Federation. Bailey is reported to have excelled in the combine test, which consists of sprints, a broad jump, throwing a shot put, a power clean and a back squat.

While Bailey has missed the opportunity to participate in the Rio Olympics, he may not have to wait until the summer of 2020 in Tokyo as the Winter Olympics will be held in February 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Speaking on the possibility of representing his country once more, NBC Sport reported Bailey as saying: “I’m not here to be just part of the team. I’m here to actually be on the Olympic team and make one of those spots. That’s what I’m shooting for.”

It has long been known that sprinters would excel in the start of the bobsleigh where a crew of four people push a sled for around 50m before mounting the car and slaloming down an iced track.

The first to discover this were Americans George Finch and William Maloney who looked to Jamaica in search of talent. Jamaica made their debut at the 1988 Olympics and this surprised many due to Jamaica’s tropical climate not being suited to the cold.

A well-known film Cool Runnings was based on the birth of this new phenomenon which has seen many sprinters give up their craft on the track, only to re-emerge as bobsledders.

Other prominent US sprinters to have made this transition include Lauryn Williams and Lolo Jones who competed in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia.

Meanwhile, Team GB sprinter Craig Pickering was also selected for the 2014 Winter Olympics but a back injury ruled him out, after the very same injury side-lined him from London 2012. Other notable sprinters in the Great Britain bobsleigh squad include Simeon Williamson and Joel Fearon.

Recently Fearon has gained notoriety as the fastest bobsledder in the world after coming back to the track and running a new personal best of 9.96 seconds.

When asked by Scott Eburne of Vinco about Fearon’s goal to reach the Olympics, the Birchfield Harrier sprinter said: “I think I let that sort of dream go back when I got injured for the first time… I’m just happy to be competitive again and happy to be running again. I’m back at – well it seems like a new best.”

The bobsleigh seems to have helped Fearon reach levels in sprinting, which include Diamond League meetings in Paris and Lausanne, that he may not have thought he was capable of.

US sprinter and long jumper, Tianna Bartoletta has also credited her return to form and Olympic gold medal in the long jump to training with the national bobsleigh team.

There are many parallels between the explosiveness of sprinting and bobsleigh and so it seems that there will be many more cool runners still to come.

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First published on: 31 August, 2016 12:00 am

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