Golden oldies are top guns on the tracks
Two bobsleighers are celebrating after another successful season on the slopes.
Richard Hall, 55, of Market Overton, and Graham Richardson, 53, from Bourne, finished an impressive third in the 2017/2018 European Senior Bobsleigh Championship.
It’s not the dynamic duo’s first taste of success – in 2007 they won the title, in 2008 they finished third and in 2015 they took second.
The experienced duo first became interested in the sport during their time serving with the RAF.
Graham said: “When I was in the RAF, Tom De La Hunty, was the number one bobsleigh pilot and I guess he became an inspiration. He was a bobsleigh driver, like me, and he was in the air force, like me.
“I’d already tried playing rugby, decathlons and multi-eventing, and bobsleighing seemed to be a combination of all of these sports. I was in my element and I quickly became hooked.”
Richard said: “I’d always been encouraged to take part in sport while in the RAF and had tried boxing and athletics. Then someone suggested I try bobsleigh – and that was that.
“I didn’t take much convincing – you’re competing in some of the world’s most beautiful locations.
“Luckily I made the cut and got in the team, and it’s escalated from there.”
The category the duo compete in mean they’re often up against former Olympic and world champions, and although many of the athletes no longer have the svelte physiques they had in their prime, the competition for medals is still intense.
Richard, who runs his own personal training company, Attain Fitness, said: “I had to lose 9.5kg in a month to make the weight limit.
“I was pretty happy when I achieved that and I honestly thought we had the best sleigh. Then we saw what the Germans and Swiss were running – it really was state-of-the-art kit and made me realise just how tough it was going to be. It’s still a huge buzz though. Flying down a tube of ice at 70-80mph is massively exciting.”
For Graham the move into bobsleighing really was a life changing moment – since he left the RAF he has coached the Canadian, Dutch and Italian teams and is currently the driving coach for the Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton.
He said: “I have a very small field of expertise, but I’ve been very fortunate to get paid for something I love. I adore the sport and I get to travel the world doing it.”