Beijing 2022: Injury delays Greg Rutherford’s bobsleigh debut

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Greg Rutherford
Rutherford won gold and bronze medals in long jump at the summer Olympics

It is more than three years since Greg Rutherford last represented Great Britain.

But the 2012 Olympic long jump champion, who retired from athletics in 2018, has turned his hand to bobsleigh – yet is going to have to wait a little longer for his return to elite competition.

The 35-year-old is attempting to become the first Briton to win medals at both the summer and winter Olympics, and had been due to line up in the four-man bobsleigh at the first World Cup race of the season in Innsbruck, Austria, on Sunday.

However, a shoulder injury has delayed his long-awaited debut in Lamin Deen’s four-man sled.

“A little bit of frustrating news. I am sadly not competing this weekend,” Rutherford said on Instagram.

“Something in my shoulder has been giving me a bit of jip for a little while now and on Saturday it came to a bit of a crescendo and I’m now having to have it looked at and sorted.

“It’s really annoying, it means I have to wait now to make my debut in the sled in competition.”

He added: “Got to get on top of these things, because fundamentally I’m aiming to go to an Olympic Games. I have to get it fixed, I have to get it right.”

Rutherford only had his first run on a full track on Saturday after training in Bath for a number of months. He posted on Instagram afterwards: “A massive day in my life and on this incredible bobsleigh journey… It’s official.. I can now call myself [a] bobsledder. FIRST EVER RUN!”

Britain will field two crews in the four-man event on Sunday with Deen and Brad Hall piloting the two sleds.

To qualify for the 2022 Winter Olympics – which are being held in Beijing in February – three top-12 finishes are required from the seven qualifying events, which includes the European Championships in San Moritz, Switzerland, in January.

Great Britain have won five Winter Olympic bobsleigh medals – including a belated bronze from the 2014 Games, which the four-man team received more than five years later, having been promoted from their original position of fifth after two Russian teams ahead of them were disqualified for doping.

Skeleton is also an event where Britain have a rich medal history having finished on the podium at every Games since the sport was reintroduced in 2002, including gold medals for Amy Williams in 2010 and Lizzy Yarnold in 2014.

Their World Cup season gets under way on Friday in Austria with 2018 Winter Olympic bronze medallist Laura Deas and Brogan Crowley in the women’s event and Craig Thompson, Matt Weston and Marcus Wyatt all racing in the men’s competition.

Deas has recently been in China at the Winter Olympic test event and called the track at Yanqing “a breathtaking piece of architecture”.

She is aiming to improve on the bronze medal she won in 2018, telling BBC Sport Wales: “At the point in time it really didn’t matter what colour it was. But the fact it was a bronze means there is room for improvement and that is really motivating.”

On Saturday, the women’s monobob will make its World Cup debut and there is also the two-man bobsleigh race, with the women’s equivalent race on Sunday.

Elsewhere in winter sport, Dave Ryding is set to race for the first time this season in the slalom at Levi in Finland, alongside Laurie Taylor and Billy Major, with Charlie Guest in the women’s race.

Winter Olympic hopefuls are also in action in ski slopestyle in Austria, cross country skiing in Norway, moguls skiing in Sweden and short-track speed skating in Hungary.

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