Craig Pickering admits fate is conspiring to ensure he never competes at the Olympic Games again after being forced to pull out of Sochi 2014 with a back injury.
The 27-year-old former Marshall Milton Keynes Athletic Club athlete was set to follow in the footsteps of Allyn Condon as the latest track and field turned bobsleigh convert to compete at the Games after being selected to represent Team GB to push for British No.2 pilot Lamin Deen in Sochi.
Deen secured Britain a second four-man bobsleigh place, and therefore Pickering a call, at the 11th hour at the Igls World Cup last month with a little help from the crew of first-choice pilot Jackson.
But Pickering’s luck has now run out as he has sustained a L3-4 acute disc prolapse during the British bobsleigh team’s Olympic prep camp in Koenigssee in Germany.
A similar injury prevented Pickering from even attempting to qualify for the London 2012 Summer Olympics let alone competing and he insists his Games career may be over.
“Having missed out on competing at the London 2012 Games due to a back injury I am devastated to have suffered a similar fate just days before the start of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games,” said Pickering.
“We worked so hard to qualify the GBR2 sled for the Games and I am gutted that I won’t be on the start line with Lamin, John [Baines] and Ben [Simons].
“I would like to thank all the staff at British Bobsleigh who have been incredibly helpful in making sure I’ve had the best support and treatment both in Germany and back in the UK.
“I will cheering the boys on from the UK and wish the rest of Team GB the best of luck in Sochi.”
He is already back in the UK but Gary Anderson, Team leader of the bobsleigh squad for Sochi, insists will have played a key role in any success that arises at the Games.
“This is a big blow and I am personally devastated for Craig,” he said.
“I spoke with him just after we heard from the doctors and he was clearly very upset, he had worked so hard to get to Sochi.
“Craig is a very professional athlete and his concern for the team illustrated that.
“We had Craig sent back to the UK from our preparation camp in Germany to confirm the original diagnosis but it was pretty clear from the outset that this was going to be tough for him.
“Since we scouted Craig into our programme he has been a model athlete, bringing with him a large amount of big competition experience and that has helped both GBR1 and GBR2 throughout the qualification process for these Games.”
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