Barnard Castle students inspired by visit from ice cool star
Mica McNeill, the Team GB bobsleigh pilot, had just helped secure the women's team's highest ever bobsleigh placing in a Winter Olympics
The 24-year-old, of Chopwell, near Consett, had just returned from the PyeongChang, South Korea, where she helped achieve the highest ever placing for a GB women’s bobsleigh in a winter Olympics.
Junior world champion in 2017 and a 2012 Winter Youth Olympics silver medallist, Mica told sixth formers and staff about life as a professional sportswoman in a sport described by a teammate as like “being kicked off a mountain in a wheelie-bin”.
She also went into classrooms to help GCSE and A Level PE students, had a working lunch with members of the elite sports programme, and a one-to-one session with top school and England netball player, Ella Bowen.
Mica visited the school after being invited by its head of sport performance, Andy Woodward, who had encouraged her to take part in a bobsleigh taster day at Camp Hill, near Bedale.
“I got involved by chance and loved it the moment I got behind the controls,” she said. “It is rough and tough, we travel at 30m/sec, which is why we love it.”
Mica stressed the importance of being resilient. She told students how her funding had been pulled five months before the winter Olympics. “I spent three days arguing our point, to no avail,” she said.
“So we took matters into our own hands, set up a crowd funding page and raised more than £30,000 for fees and expenses. We then made history by becoming the highest placed female GB bobsleigh ever. We will find out in April whether we have secured funding for the next four years.”
She now trains at Team GB bobsleigh’s base in Bath and competes around the world during the season, which runs from October.
Sixth formers asked her a variety of questions about how to break into the sport, her training regime and diet. Andy Woodward said: “Mica truly inspired our young sportsmen and women, showing how she has realised her dreams through passion, hard work and commitment.”