Nikki on top of the world after bobsleigh bronze

Nikki McSweeney
Nikki McSweeney

There may not be many places she can practice the sport she loves, but GB bobsleigh star Nikki McSweeney showed she can still compete with the best by grabbing bronze at the Junior World Championships.

The 24 year old from North Marston took on the cream of the world’s up and coming talent in Austria in December and exceeded expectations to take the bronze.

And now she has been rewarded for her performances with a place in the senior GB squad for the World Championships and a special Olympic track test event at the end of January.

“It’s unreal! Out of this world,” Nikki said of her achievements.

“It still hasn’t really sunk in to be honest.

“It was the perfect Christmas present and it was just a fantastic achievement to get bronze against what are some of the best teams in the world.

“We were up against the US, Germany, Austria ... some of the top juniors, so when we crossed the line and saw we had got the bronze we just thought ‘wow!’, it was brilliant and we’re over the moon.”

Nikki was up against 20 other teams and was aiming for a top six place, which is a podium spot in bobsleigh.

But alongside driver Mica McNeil, Nikki cruised past her rivals to go even better and grab third.

While the senior World Championships is first on the agenda, the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia remains the ultimate aim for the Vale villager.

“That’s the goal and is what any athlete aims for. It’s got to be the target and hopefully I can achieve it,” she said.

Bobsleigh is one of the most watched and popular winter Olympic sports due to the excitement of watching the sleds hurtle along the winding courses at speeds of more than 80mph.

But Nikki says it is still the classic comedy film Cool Runnings which people relate to most when talking to her about her career.

“It’s a shame bobsleigh isn’t on a more mainstream channel but it is usually on Eurosport for the main events.

“It (Cool Runnings) was on over Christmas and it’s hilarious because when I tell people what I do they are like ‘Oh my God! Like Cool Runnings? That’s awesome!’”

When competing only subtle steering adjustments are necessary to guide the 80mph sleds and anything larger would result in a crash.

It is a risky sport but that does not faze Nikki, who was just grateful to be involved after a recent injury scare.

“I had a bit of a repetitive strain injury in my Achilles from all the pushing off on the starts and had to have an injection which put me out for two weeks so I was lucky to be selected really and just so happy I was.”