How to Get Started in Bobsleigh
Bobsleigh is a decidedly niche sport, and so the path to getting into bobsleigh is not always clear. (for information on how athletes load into a bobsleigh, see here). But it might not be as difficult as it first seems.
It is rare that athletes grow up doing bobsleigh. Unless you are raised next to a track, there really isn’t the possibility to get involved as a child, and even then, there are size and age restrictions before you will even fit in a sled. For this reason, most athletes that turn to bobsleigh have had history and some success in other sports.
Pushing a bobsleigh requires a lot of power, as well as top end speed and ideally a body weight of around 105kg (230lbs) for men. For this reason there are a lot of athletes from athletics as sprinters, or other power and speed based sports, such as Rugby, American Football, Weightlifting, and many more.
What differentiates a bobsleigh athlete is that he or she is able to be both very strong as well as being capable of running speeds around that of a sprinter. Most 4-man athletes will be capable of running 100m in under 11 seconds, whilst weighing in excess of 100kg (220lbs).
Great Britain runs annual try-outs for anyone interested in giving the sport a go. This consists of some basic physical measurements like speed and explosive power, and then progresses into push testing on the dedicated start track. From here selection is made and a team of athletes head out for the winter and are then formally “bobsledders”. However there are other teams such as those of the Army, Navy, Royal Airforce, and some other private teams.