My Running Life
ANDREW MATTHEWS, 33, SLOUGH, BOBSLEIGHER
Andrew Matthews, bobsleigh brakeman
That’s where my talent for running really took off. I was quicker than everyone else, beating other footballers to the ball and winning the school races. I really didn’t take running seriously until I was in my late teens, when I joined a running club at Windsor. A coach there gave me the confidence to compete and I made the Team GB squad a couple of times. He took over my coaching. What an inspirational guy. He had a calming influence on me. He taught me masses, including patience. I had some great successes as a sprinter. I was national and European 60m champion but when I went to the trials for London, I was carrying an injury. I hurt my groin and had to pull out. I was devastated. I’d been running for 14 years and thought it was all over and time to look for a new career. if I fancied trying out for winter-sports bobsleigh, using my sprint skills to push a training trolley at a track in Bath. I was hesitant at first.
When I began bobsleigh racing, the behind-the-scenes work put me off. It wasn’t like athletics, where you just turn up and run. We do all the humping and dumping. We’re constantly polishing and maintaining the sleigh, rehearsing our start technique, training and then travelling between events.
You’re thrown around, turning over and over. You go into survival mode, preparing the body for impact, trying to keep yourself moving to stop getting ice burns. That said, I had more injuries as a sprinter.
I was coaching with a guy from GB Active. He asked me to come along and run some fitness boot camps, which I do with other Team GB athletes. I incorporate a lot of plyometric and resistance work into fun fitness sessions.
BIG CHANGE Andrew was brakeman in Team GB’S four-man bobsleigh crew at this year’s Winter Olympics