AN RAF airman from Milton Keynes has just been selected for the Great Britain Bobsleigh squad to compete on both the European and World stage this winter.
Corporal Keith McLaughlin has been through a tough selection process over the last few months, culminating in a week of intense training and final trials at a winter training camp in Sigulda, Latvia.
The 29-year-old will now compete with Team GB2 in the 2-man and 4-man Bob in the 2011 World Championships which begins this month, and in the Europa Cup throughout the season.
McLaughlin is one of three Royal Air Force personnel who will form part of the squad and believes that being in the Royal Air Force equips him well for his sport.
“It’s all about teamwork,” said the former Radcliffe School pupil. “It’s paramount in Bobsleigh and is very much like being on detachment with the RAF – you live, sleep, eat, and travel together for three or four months at a time, working together to get the best result we possibly can.”
McLaughlin has been training hard throughout the off season, working on his general speed and strength. However, pushing, sprinting and loading into a bobsleigh is a difficult and extremely technical art and training in Latvia has been intense, with the team having to get used to pushing a bobsleigh on ice after months of dry land training at Bath University – the home of UK bobsleigh.
But McLaughlin has had a meteoric rise from his novice status in 2006. He only became interested in the sport by chance when a work colleague, who was due to take part in trials for a novice camp at RAF Cosford, invited him to go along.
McLaughlin soon became part of the RAF Bobsleigh team and was later invited to attend a talent identification weekend in Bath where he came to the attention of the GB selectors, and he has now represented his country for the last three seasons.
“I’m thoroughly enjoying my career in the RAF, I love my job and the Service has given me opportunities that I would not normally have had, “ he said.
“I’m very grateful to have been given the chance to represent my country in a sport that I love.”