Sport

Welsh Bobsleigher boosts Olympic Dream

A crowdfunding campaign which sought to help send a Welsh bobsleigher to an Olympic qualifying event has succeeded, raising over £30,000 in under a week.

A withdrawal of funding had left Mica Moore facing an uphill struggle of competing at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The event in Pyeongchang, South Korea starts next February and the British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association (BBSA) left it late to cut funding for the women’s bobsleigh team.

UK Sport had injected £10m into the BBSA over a four-year cycle up to this year. However, athlete accusations publicly revealed by the BBC of “bullying, racism, sexism and discrimination” within the BBSA led to a £50,000 cut this summer.

An independent review has been looking at these allegations with performance director Gary Anderson and head coach Dominik Scherrer both stepping down, although there has been no suggestion of wrongdoing by either man.

The three men’s teams overseen by the BBSA performance programme have escaped unharmed, but the women’s team were the only one cut despite the BBSA being the United Kingdom’s best funded winter sport governing body. Fortunately for the women, the generosity of those donating was enough to secure funds for their World Cup trip, and with it a shot at qualifying for the Olympics.

The BBSA has come under widespread fire for their approach to funding and the women’s team. Olympic skeleton champion Lizzy Yarnold criticised the BBSA, saying “It’s hard to see talent and hard work go to waste. Everyone deserves their moment to make their dreams come true.”

Politicians have also weighed in, with Shadow sports minister Dr Rosena Allin-Khan questioning the existing funding system.”If British Bobsleighing can afford the funding for three men’s teams, they can fund one women’s team.

“They may say the reason is due to medal success potential at the Winter Olympics but if we don’t fund our women’s team then they won’t have the chance to develop and be successful.

Despite the initial setback, Moore reacted positively to the funding news “It’s amazing to have people’s support. I can’t begin to think how to thank people. It’s so overwhelming to think everyone has put money in towards us to achieve our Olympic dream”.

Moore, from Newport, took an interesting route to the sport and was originally a sprinter who competed for Wales at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. She took up the bobsleigh in 2016, and with her partner Mica McNeill won a gold medal at the World Junior Championships earlier this year.

The BBSA responded to the controversy with a statement “The GB Bobsleigh programme is currently focusing resources on winning medals at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

“We are actively seeking commercial funding to further support our world-class programme and we will continue to do so.”

Moore’s success is a heart-warming story which would be topped if she can help her team qualify for the Olympic Games, but the negativity of the BBSA and the continuing scandals that engulf that organisation bring a dark shadow over British sport.

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