By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year
September 1 - Britain has begun preparing for the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck in 2012 by inducting four young girls into a development bobsleigh programme overseen by world champion Nicola Minichiello.
Charlotte Burrows, Kirsten Emery, Mica McNeil and Rebecca Law were chosen by Great Britain Bobsleigh to take part in a training camp at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.
The programme, which is supported by the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS), is designed to prepare the four young girls to race on the Europa Cup circuit and qualify for the Youth Olympics in less than two years time.
The girls will undergo rigorous training and development of their bobsled driving skills by attending FIBT training schools and driving on as many tracks as possible on the circuit.
A vital part of this programme will be to combine the athletes education with life on the circuit. Interaction with the parents and schools is going to be vital to ensure that the athletes will cope with the demands.
Britain's bobsleigh performance director Gary Anderson welcomed the athletes and their parents to the two day training camp and outlined the standards required of these young athletes.
He said: "Part of my remit within Great Britain Bobsleigh is to ensure a sustainability of the world-class programme we are putting in place, these young athletes are part of that sustainability process and I need them to be challenging our senior athletes for places on the World Cup circuit in the years to come.
"In order for this to happen we are dependent on funding and sponsorship and we have a programme in place to try and obtain the necessary funds for these young athletes, we are so grateful to TASS for supporting these young athletes in our quest for a podium finish in 2012."
Minichiello, who is to miss this season's World Cup series due to surgery on her knee, is heading up the coaching team for the squad.
She said: "it is vital that we install the correct values in these young athletes, they will learn all about bobsleigh technology and strategies to cope with track conditions.
"I am so excited to be involved in this very exciting project."
The team manager for the programme is Jo Manning, who has devised a comprehensive preparation and competition schedule for the athletes.
She said: "We want these girls to be the best prepared they can be to go on the circuit - that includes preparing their equipment and maintaining it to the highest possible standards.
"Over the next two days the girls will be introduced to the methods we will be using.
"They are under no illusion of the commitment they need to make but it is going to be well worth it."
The two-day camp comprised of various education sessions and a visit to the bobsleigh workshop, track sessions and push track training at Camp Hill training centre with current British bobsleighers Gillian Cooke, Minichiello's partner when they won the world title last year, and Fiona Harrison.
The squad's first test will be when they attend the FIBT Training School in Igls Austria where they will undertake numerous runs on the circuit.
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
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