By Owen Morgan
Welsh athlete Adele Nicoll won a stunning bobsleigh World Cup silver medal in Latvia on Sunday morning.
In only her second World Cup race, the reigning Welsh shot put champion partnered pilot Mica McNeill to second place in Sigulda.
The medal was Great Britain’s first in women’s World Cup bobsleigh since January 2009 and strengthens the nation’s bid to qualify for the Beijing Winter Olympics in February.
A place at the Olympics could be the first leg of a remarkable sporting double for brake woman Nicoll in 2022.
When you've put your heart and soul into something, the success is so much sweeter 🙏🏼☺️ https://t.co/b7x3oUIsrS
— Adelé Nicoll (@adelenicoll) January 2, 2022
The Birchfield Harrier already has the Welsh nomination standard in the shot put for this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
Nicoll, who only took up bobsleigh seriously last year, was competing for Great Britain for just the third time overall, having been an unused travelling reserve last season.
The 25-year-old finished 20th with McNeill on her World Cup debut in Igls (Austria) in November after coming 10th in the Olympic Test Event in October.
“I’m so happy with today’s results,” said Nicoll on Sunday. “This was only my second time racing on World Cup. Second race, second place!”
“I’ve had such an incredible journey with team DHL McNeill so far and I’m excited for what’s to come and our mission to get to the Olympic Games.
“I’m just so happy that I could help Mica get such a good result. I feel so confident sliding behind her and I’m glad to have given her the start she needed to get onto the podium.
“Massive thanks to DHL for making it all possible.”
The sponsorship by international package and mail delivery service DHL is particularly significant.
McNeill qualified for the last Winter Olympics four years ago alongside another Welsh athlete – sprinter Mica Moore.
However, the pair had to fund their own preparation costs for the games after the national bobsleigh federation announced they only had enough funding to take a men’s team to Pyeonchang.
Cardiff Athletics star Moore, who competed for Wales in the relay at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, and McNeill raised £30,000 to fund their dream.
Despite the added challenges, the pairing managed a remarkable eighth placed finish – the best ever result by a British women’s bobsleigh team at the Olympics.
Moore has once again been in contention this season to earn a place to partner McNeill, in competition with Nicoll and another GB sprinter Montell Douglas.
McNeill is hopeful of leading another British two-woman crew in China: “We’re still on the journey to qualifying for the Olympic Games but we’re feeling optimistic heading into next week’s race.
“We are so thankful to our team and to DHL for everything they do to support us.”
McNeill and Nicoll had raced together just twice prior to Sunday’s competition and neither had raced at Sigulda before but they clocked a combined time of 1 minute 42.10 seconds to finish 18 hundredths of a second inside the medal spots.
They sat third at the halfway mark and guaranteed themselves at least a bronze with another strong slide in Run 2 before Russian race leader Nadezhda Sergeeva overturned as she chased gold.
America’s Elana Meyers Taylor took top spot, with Canada’s Christine De Bruin winning bronze behind the Brits.
The British team now move on to compete in Winterberg in Germany next weekend, before the circuit concludes in St Moritz on the weekend of January 14-16.