The only way is downhill for Craig Pickering

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CRAIG Pickering has described his first ever experience of competitive bobsleigh as ‘semi-decent’ after he finished 19th in the latest World Cup round in Germany on Saturday.

The ex-sprinter, 26, teamed up with marine John Jackson in the two-man event in the mountains of Konigssee, having pushed a bobsleigh on ice for the first time only five days earlier.

With just over a year to go before the 2014 Winter Olympics is held in Russia, Pickering was launching the next stage of his sporting life after a serious back injury ruled him out of what should have been the biggest year of his career.

As one of Britian’s leading sprinters for much of the last decade, Pickering was made to watch on as his national rivals made their London 2012 dreams come true last summer.

He insists that he hasn’t completely given up on sprinting, but Pickering is now targeting Sochi 2014 rather than Rio 2016 as the Olympics which could finally bring some reward for his years of effort, sacrifice and heartbreak.

Silver at the 2007 European Indoor Championships is still Pickering’s only major individual medal from athletics, although his 100m exploits have seen him compete on numerous big stages, including the Beijing Olympics of 2008. He was also an integral part of Britain’s 4x100m relay squad, winning World Championship bronze in 2007.

But his attempts to make a dramatic recovery to the sport suffered a blow when he lost his funding in light of not being able to compete during 2012.

Not until the start of last week had Pickering pushed a sleigh on a slope, but he was fast-tracked to join British No1 pilot Jackson for his first taste of top level action, finishing in 19th place after coming 14th on the first run and 15th on the second.

Training at British Bobsleigh’s base in Bath, Pickeirng hopes to move on to the four-man event in the future, but admits that he still has plenty to learn about the sport if his hopes of making the GB squad for Sochi 2014 are to be realised.

He said: “We would have liked to have pushed quicker, but considering it was only my fifth and sixth runs ever it could have been worse.

“Hopefully with a bit more technical work over the next few weeks my own performances will improve.

“Massive thanks to John Jackson and the rest of the guys for helping me through it all.”