World championship looms
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.
One eye on PyeongChang: Jerry Rice