Epsom bobsledder Nick Gleeson is proud to have played a part in Britain’s journey from ‘idiots abroad’ to world-beaters, whatever happens at the Winter Olympics.
Gleeson begins his Beijing campaign alongside Brad Hall in the 2-man event, a discipline in which Britain have won three World Cup medals this season.
The 25-year-old and team have self-funded their way to the Games and their clubbable approach to a deeply serious sport has ruffled feathers on the way.
“People called us the stupidest team on season,” said Gleeson. “Just a bunch of idiots really, because we were having a laugh on social media.
“We don’t take ourselves too seriously when we don’t need to. When we’re at the track, we’re doing everything we need to do, but we can switch on and off and enjoy it.
“We’re not just hardcore athletes – we’re four regular guys, there’s nothing particularly special about us. If you take us and we push a bobsleigh, it works.
“Before the 2019 World Championships, someone commented saying, ‘idiots abroad – prove me wrong.’ We went out and finished fourth in the world behind three Olympic medallists.
“I spoke to the first person who made that comment and they said, ‘you proved me wrong’ and I’m incredibly proud of that.”
Gleeson returns to the biggest stage in bobsleigh having made his Olympic debut as part of Hall’s 4-man crew that finished 17th at PyeongChang 2018.
In the process he became Britain’s youngest Olympic bobsledder, competing at the Games shortly after his 21st birthday.
Hall has been a crucial part of his career and Gleeson paid tribute to the pilot’s talents.
“Brad is an incredibly intelligent guy, although he may not come across like that sometimes,” said Gleeson.
“He’s got this fantastic ability to be a pusher but as soon as he jumps in, sits down, he’s got the ability to just switch off and to focus on the driving.
“He’s done it hundreds and hundreds of times and this season he’s got it down to a tee.”
For Gleeson, the chief focus is clearly on the 4-man event alongside Hall, Taylor Lawrence and Greg Cackett rather than the 2-man opener.
“We’ve always thought about the 2-man as a bonus, because 4-man is such a blue riband event,” he said.
“That’s what people want to see, four big guys get into a little bathtub and then shoot off down the hill. But I was very happy to get the 2-man position and it has made me work even harder.
“It’s given me a chance to hopefully bring back two Olympic medals and I’m not going to stop at anything to make that a possibility.”
Watch All the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 live on discovery+, Eurosport and Eurosport app