Alcott selected for Sochi

Hampshire Chronicle: Chemmy Alcott was named in a 19-strong Great Britain ski and snowboard team Chemmy Alcott was named in a 19-strong Great Britain ski and snowboard team

Chemmy Alcott will head to her fourth Winter Olympics in Sochi next month after convincing the Great Britain selectors that she is fit enough to compete.

The 31-year-old Londoner faced an anxious wait after missing out on her last chance to prove herself prior to the selection deadline when a World Cup race in Italy was cancelled at the weekend.

But on Wednesday Alcott was named in a 19-strong Great Britain ski and snowboard team for the Games - while British slalom expert Dave Ryding has also made the cut.

Alcott faced a major battle to reach Sochi having only returned to full-time training in December after breaking her leg for a third time in August 2012.

Although she achieved good enough results to meet the Olympic qualifying standard, she had a harder job convincing British selectors that she had reached the required level of fitness.

Alcott made her Olympic debut in Salt Lake City in 2002 where she came 14th in the super combined, and went on to score 11th-place finishes in both 2006 and 2010.

Lancastrian Ryding has impressed on the Europa Cup circuit this season and expressed his delight at being selected for his second Games in the men's slalom.

Ryding said: "It's a great feeling to be represented to select Team GB in Sochi, after four years of hard work since the last Olympics I look forward to putting my best skiing out there on the day of the race."

World Cup medallists James Woods, Katie Summerhayes and Rowan Cheshire lead a six-strong freestyle skiing team which also includes Murray Buchan, James Machon and Emma Lonsdale.

Snowboarders Billy Morgan, Jenny Jones and Zoe Gillings have also enjoyed success on the World Cup circuit and they will be joined by Jamie Nicholls, Aimee Fuller, Ben Kilner and Dom Harrington.

Fresh from his stunning win in the Norwegian national championships at the weekend, Andrew Musgrave is one of four cross-country skiers selected including his sister Posy Musgrave, Andrew Young and Callum Smith.

Great Britain will also mark the 50-year anniversary of the famous gold medal win by Robin Dixon and Tony Nash in Innsbruck by sending a 10-strong bobsleigh squad to the Games.

For the first time since 2002, the squad will consist of two four-man teams after Lamin Deen's GB2 sled squeezed into a qualification place following a hectic final weekend on the World Cup circuit.

The GB1 sled will be piloted by John Jackson, who capped a remarkable recovery from a serious Achilles injury in the summer by steering his team to a silver medal at a World Cup race in Lake Placid earlier this season.

Team GB Chef de Mission Mike Hay said: "Bobsleigh has had its ups and downs this year but ultimately gone from strength to strength and there is no better proof of that than the fact that we have qualified a second four-man bob for Sochi, the first time since Salt Lake City in 2002.

"I am particularly pleased for John Jackson, who will pilot one of the four-man sleds after making an extremely impressive recovery from a ruptured Achilles he sustained last July, less than eight months out from Sochi."

Jackson's sled also includes brake-men Stuart Benson, Joel Fearon and Bruce Tasker, while Deen will be pushed by John Baines, Ben Simons and Craig Pickering, who also represented Great Britain at the 2008 Beijing summer Games in the 4x100m relay.

Pickering said: "I only started in bobsleigh 13 months ago, so to come from nothing to being selected for Sochi, it's been hard work, but I've made it and I am excited to have been selected to compete for Team GB again.

"That's why we do sport - to compete at the highest level and there is no higher level than the Olympic Games."

Paula Walker will return for her second Games in the women's competition, having finished 14th on her debut in Vancouver four years ago. She will be pushed by Altrincham's Rebekah Wilson, who will make her Games debut.

Current World Cup leader Lizzy Yarnold and reigning world champion Shelley Rudman are included in a four-strong skeleton squad which takes the final number in Great Britain's Winter Olympic team to 56.

Yarnold has won four out of seven World Cup races so far this season and medalled in the other three, while Rudman, who won Olympic silver in Turin in 2006, was crowned world champion in St Moritz last year.

Rudman's partner Kristan Bromley will go to his fourth Olympics having made his debut at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, and he will be joined by Dominic Parsons who secured a surprise World Cup silver medal in Calgary this season.

Yarnold said: "This really is a dream come true - my whole life I have dreamt about becoming a British Olympian and for the last five years since I took up skeleton, competing at Sochi 2014 has been my primary focus.

"This season has been great for my preparation, I am in a good place both physically and mentally, and I can't wait to get back on the Sochi track, go over the lines and maintain my focus.

"I don't take part in races to come second, so I will approach the Olympic Winter Games as I do every race and give it everything I've got."

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