How it all started

When I started at Bath Uni I had no idea what skeleton was. I was a 400m runner and trained with a close group of athletes – mainly uni students, at the university sports facilities.

My first introduction to skeleton came after a BBQ and late night out in Bath one summer. Adam Pengilly, a skeleton athlete who knew some of my training group, persuaded some of us to come along to some skeleton talent testing the morning after. I was feeling the effects of too much fun the night before, so sat out the sprint tests to nurse my head and feel sorry for myself.

After all the testing was done Adam appeared and offered to take us down to the push track for a go at pushing a sled. We followed him down to a hidden corner of the University campus behind the rugby fields where the push track lives. It’s essentially a big ramp with rails set into it and a bungee cord at the bottom.

After a quick crash course on how to push the sled down the rails we all had a go, and suddenly my hangover was forgotten. None of us wanted to go home and I was probably one of the most annoyingly enthusiastic out of all of us. Suddenly Adam was no longer that guy who trained with us occasionally, but was an athlete who competed in an incredible sport that I knew nothing about but still wanted to get involved in.

Later that summer Adam had organised a push competition for all of the GB skeleton athletes and invited me to come along for a bit of fun. This time I brought my sprint spikes and surprised everyone, myself included, when I won the competition, beating athletes who had competed internationally in the sport and had been doing it for years.

Lucky for me this caught the eye of some of the people higher up in British Skeleton, and I was invited to try out skeleton on the ice in Lillehammer, Norway. This was my first experience travelling to anywhere cold, and I was stupidly under-prepared for it. But being part of a talent ID squad consisting of me and 8 girls, plus getting to try out skeleton on the ice for the first time, made it a great experience.

We spent two weeks there, gradually moving up the track and being scrutinised by the British Skeleton coaches at every step. At the end of it four girls and myself were selected onto the team. I still didn’t know anything about the sport but it was a huge relief for me that I’d get to carry on having a go.

At the time there was no detailed process for the talent athletes to follow in skeleton, so I was sent home to wait until I was next called on. That call came in January 2008, for me to replace one of the current athletes for the Europa Cup race in St Moritz, Switzerland. So I started my first skeleton race only a few months after finding out about the sport, and with all the experience of a new born puppy.

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