A nationwide programme designed to identify the British bobsleigh champions of the future has received a £10,000 sponsorship boost from R&R Ice Cream – the world’s third largest ice cream manufacturer.
The British Bobsleigh & Skeleton Association (BBSA) launched their latest youth programme in October 2014 to encourage promising young athletes interested in pursuing the sport to come forward with the aim of competing at the 2020 Youth Winter Olympics.
Two of the current stars of the programme travelled to Camp Hill outdoor activities centre near Bedale in North Yorkshire which has one of only two permanent bobsleigh push start tracks in the UK. George Johnston (18) – whose family comes from near Whitby – and Kelsea Purchall (18) finished the season ranked no1 in the world in the mens’ and ladies’ youth mono bobsleigh categories respectively. In addition, Kelsea won a bronze medal at the recent Youth Winter Olympics in Lillehammer and proof of the strength of Great Britain’s youth sliding team is evident by the fact that GB won almost half the 42 medals on offer in the recent World Youth Series, winning a total of seven races along the way.
At Camp Hill, George and Kelsea met up with R&R CEO Ibrahim Najafi and tested their skills on the push start track.
Ibrahim Najafi said: “I am delighted to support this valuable initiative which will hopefully produce future sliding stars who will shine at the 2020 Youth Winter Olympic Games in Lausanne. I am personally keen on the programme as it enables youngsters to make the most of their natural talents and also there is a big focus on commitment and teamwork. At R&R we like to get involved in schemes where our donation will make a real difference and I wish the youth programme every success in the future.”
Richard Parker, CEO of the BBSA, said: “Last season was a hugely successful one for the GB Youth Bobsleigh programme and R&R Ice Cream played an important role in that success.
“To dominate the world rankings in both the junior men’s and junior women’s competitions is a tremendous achievement and it points to a bright future for bobsleigh in Great Britain.
“Seeing these young people progress from novices to leading international athletes is hugely inspiring and we are very grateful to R&R for the support they provide throughout that journey. Without their backing, this success story would not be possible.
“They have also played an important role in introducing the BBSA to other partners, all of whom share R&R’s passion for our sport and our vision, and for that we are also very thankful.”
Bruce Ropner OBE, whose family installed the push start track at Camp Hill and who was the British two-man bobsleigh champion in 1962 is a Vice –President of the BBSA. He commented: “I am delighted that a successful Yorkshire business such as R&R has agreed to be a sponsor. This intensive programme gives young people the opportunity to find out if they have the strength and courage required to drive bobsleighs at speeds of nearly 90mph.”