Lamin Deen closing in on Bobsleigh World Cup medal

Published: Tuesday 12th January 2016 by The News Editor

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Lamin Deen came up an agonising 0.04 seconds short last weekend in his quest to complete an improbable journey from the gang-plagued streets of Manchester’s Moss Side to a Bobsleigh World Cup podium.

Yet the 34-year-old’s fourth place in Lake Placid along with John Baines, Joel Fearon and Andy Matthews marked another promising stage in a steep trajectory designed to bring Great Britain a fifth Olympic medal in the sport in Pyeongchang in 2016.

Deen, whose transformation from childhood troublemaker to Winter Olympian began when he quit college to join the Grenadier Guards at the age of 15, seemed very much the bit-part player in Sochi in 2014 when he and his four-man crew trailed in 19th.

While attention rightly focused on John Jackson’s battling fifth-place finish, an undaunted Deen continued the painfully slow and thorough learning process all new drivers must submit to before they can truly challenge the world’s elite.

Deen’s patience showed signs of paying off with a fifth-place finish at last year’s World Championships in Winterberg, and a consistent start to the new campaign – only Jackson, who took silver at Lake Placid in 2013, has previously won a GB four-man medal – suggests more success ahead.

Deen told Press Association Sport: “I was told when I first started that it takes between eight and 10 years to become a world-class pilot and although I didn’t believe it at first it is true – and I have still got a lot of learning to do.

“But this is the first year I have had a consistent team and we have produced a series of solid performances which have filled me with confidence. I am making better choices and that is paying off in the results we have been getting.

“Pyeongchang is not far away now and we are beginning to establish ourselves among the guys who are going to be competing for the medals. No-one else is going to come up now, so if we can get in the mix and continue in the same way next season, we can be contenders.”

It is not just Deen and his team-mate and rival Jackson who are pushing to add another chapter to Britain’s storied history in the sport which began in terms of Olympic medals with gold for Tony Nash and Robin Dixon in the two-man event at Innsbruck in 1994.

On the same day Deen was coming close to his first World Cup medal, the nation’s recent improvement at youth level was spectacularly manifested in a clean sweep of the podium in a series of qualifying races for next month’s Winter Youth Olympics in Lillehammer.

Kelsea Purchall, Annabel Chaffey and Aimee Davey piloted Great Britain to gold, silver and bronze respectively in the girls’ races while George Johnson and Ed Himbury took gold and bronze in the boys’ events.

GB Bobsleigh performance director Gary Anderson said: “I could never have imagined this was possible when I started the job. But seeing a Union Jack raised at a medal ceremony is the norm now and that’s how we want it to continue.

“We have some very, very talented young athletes here and they really are the future of the sport. It’s not a wild statement to say that one of those girls could qualify for the next Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang – they are that good.”

Deen’s quest for a first World Cup medal continues in back-to-back four-man races in Park City, Utah this weekend.

Published: Tuesday 12th January 2016 by The News Editor

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