Rebekah ‘Bex’ Wilson knew she had to act with her bobsleigh career going backwards!
So, the girl from Altrincham did what few aspiring Olympians ever consider – she quit the National programme and handed back her UK Sport funding.
Over £20,000 poorer, Wilson headed home from British Bobsleigh HQ in Bath, uncertain what the future held but determined she still desired a winter sports career.
Yesterday, the 22-year-old said goodbye to her parents plus four older brothers and sisters and boarded a flight to Russia in readiness for high speed action at the Sochi Winter Olympics.
“I guess I made the right decision after all,” she told MEN Sport in an exclusive interview. “Then again I am a very determined person.
“At the time I just felt the set-up in Bath wasn’t right for me. However, it was a tough call,” agrees the former Navigation Road primary school and Wellington High pupil.
“It was 18 months out from the Olympics and I felt things were going backwards. I knew I could be a better athlete than I was.
“So, I packed up and moved back to Manchester. I was out of touch with British Bobsleigh for 12 months. I told them I would be back in better shape for the Olympic Trials but I am not sure they believed me.”
Denied her £1,700 per month funding Wilson still needed money to pay her training costs.
“The bank of mum and dad was very helpful but I still had to find other ways to get money,” she explained.
“I was the local babysitter, a nanny for my two cousins, I did a bit of work as a nail technician and I even did some waitressing at a local garden centre.”
Local sports physiotherapists, Harris & Ross, offered treatment for a hip problem as Wilson battled to overcome the odds.
There was also encouragement and advice from her sprint coach, Morris Condon, whose son Allyn, represented Britain at a Summer and Winter Olympics.
Like Wilson, Condon junior was an international class sprinter who graduated through the ranks with Sale Harriers. He eventually swopped a tartan athletics track for an icy bobsleigh track, earning a Games call-up to Vancouver four years ago.
Like Condon junior, Wilson admits her lack of inches was always likely to be a stumbling block when trying to keep pace with the world’s quickest speed merchants.
“I am only 5’2” and I am also a very realistic person,” she laughed. “Over 60 metres I was up there with the top girls in Britain. But over 100 metres, once the girls with longer legs got into their stride, I was always likely to struggle.
“In bobsleigh, however, you have only got to sprint for a maximum of 50 metres and with my explosive power, it suited me perfectly.
“But I enjoyed athletics and once I lose some of this bobsleigh weight, I’ll hopefully be competing for Sale this summer. At the moment I am not sure I could get to 100 metres!”
Diminutive Wilson has certainly made giant strides in her new sporting career. But it was only 10 days ago she and pilot, Paula Walker, were confirmed as Britain’s Sochi two-man bobsleigh partnership.
She has, however, experience of the Sochi track. “It’s really nice,” she said. “It’s not too aggressive and there are a couple of uphill sections as well. But there’s still scope to get hurt if we don’t get it right.”
The pair’s late selection means Wilson’s family will be watching the action in Sochi from their Altrincham front room. And she is quick to allay any fears over the terrorist threat that continues to loom over the 2014 Games.
“I think we are all very aware of the security risks but I have every confidence in the BOA (British Olympic Association) and the IOC (International Olympic Committee) that they have done everything possible to make sure athletes are safe.
“I certainly won’t be thinking of that when I am stood on the start line. I’ll be in competition mode.”