Winter Olympics: McNeill determined to prove funding still worthwhile

Driver Mica McNeill and Mica Moore of Britain smile after their final heat during the women's two-man bobsled final in PyeongChang. Picture: AP/Michael Sohn

Mica McNeill vowed to continue her record-breaking bobsleigh journey all the way to Beijing after piloting Great Britain to an eighth-place finish in the women’s competition in PyeongChang.

The 24-year-old, with partner Mica Moore, dropped two places from their overnight position of sixth but still eclipsed the previous best of ninth set by Nicola Minichiello in 2006.

Canada's skip Rachel Homan, center, leaves the ice after losing to Great Britain in Gangneung. Picture: AP/Natacha Pisarenko

It was a significant achievement for McNeill who four months ago was forced to launch a crowd-funding drive to raise the £30,000 required to sustain her place on the World Cup circuit after being threatened with a funding cut.

McNeill said: “A lot of people might have thought we were mad – when our funding was cut it was a really heartbreaking and stressful time but we knew we deserved to come here and make history.

“I hope we have shown that we can challenge in the future and that we are deserving of funding.

“We want to win a medal in Beijing and it would be great not to be powered by the people, and have UK Sport help us out.”

I’ve got four years to improve my consistency as a driver. If you think about four years it is such a long time and I think we can be going to Beijing and challenging for medals.

Mica McNeill

McNeill is notably younger than the majority of her contemporaries – the silver and bronze medallists Elana Meyers and Kaillie Humphries are in their thirties – but she was one of the fastest to get to grips with the new Pyeongchang track.

After the first two runs on Tuesday, McNeill and Moore sat in sixth place just 0.46 seconds behind the German eventual winners Mariama Jamanka and Lisa Buckwitz, but they lost their chance to improve on that position and potentially challenge for bronze after a mistake on their third run.

“My inexperience on this track told a bit in the end,” admitted McNeill.

“I put two great runs together to get in the medal mix but today I let it run into the eighth and caught the roof.

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“I’ve got four years to improve my consistency as a driver. If you think about four years it is such a long time and I think we can be going to Beijing and challenging for medals.”

Great Britain’s women curlers will have a shot at a medal after booking their place in tomorrow’s semi-finals.

Britain’s men, however, will have to negotiate a play-off against Switzerland today if they are to join them.

Skip Eve Muirhead steered her rink to a 6-5 win over Canada, who were eliminated as a result and feels Britain are gradually building momentum. She said: “It was a great team performance, it shows we have a lot of determination and a lot of patience.”

After three straight wins, Kyle Smith’s men’s squad knew victory over the United States would secure a place in the last four, but they succumbed to a 10-4 defeat.

Bradford’s Jamie Nicholls, 24, made history as the first competitor to compete in snowboard ‘big air’ but his participation was shortlived as he finished 11th in qualifying, missing out on the final.

“My first run I felt a little nervous. Obviously being the first male snowboarder to drop in to the first big air at the Olympics, it was scary,” he said.

“I was stood up there for a while, the crowds were cheering and going for it and I was just stood up there and I was quiet. I was nervous.

“I messed up my first run but I felt like that was down to my nerves.”

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