Kelsea Purchall said she feels ‘amazing’ after winning a bronze medal in the women’s monobob at the Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games. Annabel Chaffey and Aimee Davey finished in fourth and fifth place respectively, and George Johnston took sixth place in the men’s monobob as the four SportsAid athletes represented Team GB with pride.
Kelsea’s time of 1:57.67 from her two runs was 0.26 seconds behind Germany’s Laura Nolte who claimed gold and just 0.02 seconds off silver medalist Mercedes Schulte of Austria. Annabel (1:57.82) and Aimee (1:57.88) finished just shy of the podium positions.
“I’m amazed to win bronze and I didn’t actually believe it was going to happen after my first run,” said Kelsea. “I was sitting in fourth place so I really had to buck my game up for my second run. I went on first so I didn’t really know what to compare myself to.
“This is one of the biggest crowds that we’ve done it in front of and obviously the snow doesn’t help – I knew the track was going to be slower today but I put in a good start time which is my best all week (5.92 secs from first run) which I was really happy with.”
Kelsea’s parents came out to watch her perform in Lillehammer and she said she was “so happy they can share it all with me”. Her mum Sharon had never seen her race before and was “overwhelmed” to see her daughter step on to the medal podium at the Winter Youth Olympic Games.
“I’m shocked and obviously very proud,” said Sharon. "It’s the first time I’ve seen her race so I can’t believe it. I can’t even put it into words. Kelsea gets off on adrenaline and the rush – she feeds off it. The whole experience has made her feel very special - she’s worked really hard and it’s tiring but she’s very happy.”
Annabel sustained a hamstring injury during the summer and wasn’t sure whether she’d actually make the qualification races so was delighted to even get out to Lillehammer and have the opportunity to perform on the Winter Youth Olympics stage and compete on behalf of her country.
“Putting the Team GB race suit on and wearing the Union Jack helmet really makes you feel special,” said Annabel. “We’re not used to such big crowds. You really have to learn to ignore it – it’s a case of pretending it’s not there and focusing on what’s going on and what you have to do.
“It’s been an amazing experience being at a multi-sport event - I’ve watched other sports I haven’t seen before and met lots of people from other nations. It’s been a real eye-opener to the world of winter sports because as far as we’re concerned we only know bobsleigh!”
Aimee has seen a remarkable rise having only started bobsleigh less than six months ago with athletics her main sport for two years. As a small child, she’d said to her grandparents she wanted to go to the Olympic Games – they made the trip out with Aimee’s mum and dad.
“My dream has become a reality!” said Aimee. “I couldn’t imagine anything better than this. It’s such an accomplishment to be here wearing a Team GB race suit with the Olympic rings on. I couldn’t be any happier. Lillehammer has been a really great experience for me.
“The progress I’ve made since December when I was ninth and 13th on this track to now be coming fifth is amazing. My goal was top six and I can’t believe I’ve done it. It’s something I could have never dreamed of a year ago. When we started the programme I could never have seen myself here.”
George finished sixth in the men's monobob with a combined time of 1:55.48 after a first run of 57.31 secs. Jonas Jannusch of Germany won gold with 1:54.29, Russia’s Maksim Ivanov (1:54.44) taking silver and Kristian Olsen (1:54.53) from Norway claiming the bronze medal position.
“I’m pretty disappointed but also happy to be here,” said George. “I’ve just got to look at the positives today and from this year, take it forward and hopefully keep getting better. I’ve got to deal with the pressure a little bit better, put two good runs together and get more consistent.”PHOTO CREDIT - Vegar S Hansen/Lillehammer 2016