World cham­pi­onship looms

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - SPORT - by Tim Street tms-sport@trin­i­tymir­ror.com Twit­ter: @Street­boyTim

HIS ul­ti­mate aim may be next year’s Win­ter Olympics – but first up for Jerry Rice is a World Cham­pi­onships de­but in the men’s skele­ton this month.

The Amer­sham-born ath­lete will travel out to Ger­many for the In­ter­na­tional Bob­sleigh & Skele­ton Fed­er­a­tion World Cham­pi­onships at Lake Königssee from Fri­day, Fe­bru­ary 24 to Sun­day 26.

Rice, who took up the sport com­pet­i­tively four years ago af­ter play- ing rugby for Amer­sham & Chiltern, is hop­ing the cham­pi­onships will in­di­rectly lead to a place in the GB Olympic squad which trav­els to South Korea next year.

He said: “The Win­ter Olympics is the pin­na­cle of my sport, so that is my dream. You have to qual­ify in the year of the tour­na­ment, so noth­ing I do this year will guar­an­tee me a place, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be giv­ing it my best un­til then.

“I have to ba­si­cally be in the top three in the men’s skele­ton in Great Bri­tain to qual­ify for the Olympics, and I am cur­rently num­ber two – and num­ber 16 in the world – so it’s about main­tain­ing my po­si­tion and push­ing for num­ber one, and push­ing to­wards the world’s top 10.”

In fact, such was Rice’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to suc­ceed in the sport he only dis­cov­ered five years ago, that not only was he will­ing to leave rugby be­hind, but also a di­ploma at Not­ting­ham Univer­sity.

Hav­ing left St Cle­ment Danes School in Chor­ley­wood, Rice was only a year into a sports-re­lated de­gree be­fore walk­ing away to fo­cus on the skele­ton.

He said: “I went out to the Cresta Run – which is the mother of all ice slid­ing cir­cuits and where all the re- lated sports were in­vented – for a bit of a gap year be­tween school and uni.

“I re­ally en­joyed it and was work­ing on the run for a year. Peo­ple were say­ing I was quite good at slid­ing, so I got in touch with Bri­tish Skele­ton. It was a slightly dif­fer­ent route from the one most take.”

The World Cham­pi­onships will see Rice and his fel­low com­peti­tors take part in two runs on the Fri­day and two more on the Sun­day, with an over­all plac­ing based on all four. He is part of a six-per­son Bri­tish team which also in­cludes Olympic cham­pion Lizzie Yarnold.

PICTURE: ALEX LIVESEY GETTY IMAGES

One eye on PyeongChang: Jerry Rice

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