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Marine Taylor races for world bobsleigh title

The Team GB sled on the track at St Moritz - Courtesy Viesturs Lacis
10 February 2021
Royal Marine Taylor Lawrence races for international bobsleigh glory this weekend in Germany, representing his nation in the World Championships.

He’s one of the four-man Great Britain team who’ll be thundering around the track at Altenberg at speeds of over 80mph, taking on more than 20 of the world’s top bobsleigh teams over two days of intense racing.

Taylor is one of a handful of elite athletes in the Royal Navy who have put their military careers on hold for a shot at sporting triumph at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

The 24-year-old commando is one of three military brakemen, joining Paras Luke Dawes and Nick Gleeson, plus the pilot Brad Hall in the four-man GB sled.

Despite the pandemic and associated travel restrictions, the 2020-21 bobsleigh season has continued, reaching its climax with the World Championships at Altenberg on the Czech-German border south of Dresden.

Teams face four runs down the 1,400-metre long track, negotiating its 17 turns in a little over 53 seconds after reaching speeds in excess of 80mph. The fastest combined time takes the title. Last year on the same track the GB team were placed seventh.

“This year will be a bit different as it will be the first time in at least 15 years where the three brakemen on the GB No.1 sled will all be military personal,” said Taylor.

Injuries and Covid restrictions have prevented some training and appearances at races over the 2020-21 season (including the squad isolating for ten days on one occasion when a physio tested positive for the virus).

But the bobsleighers have still got time in on the track at some of Europe’s premier venues: the indoor ice push house facility at Oberhof in Germany to practise the all-important start, the legendary St Moritz run in Switzerland – the only completely natural ice track in the world – where injury prevented the four-man team competing, while a last-minute change of crew helped the two-man sled to tenth place, and Winterburg and Königssee in Germany.

At the latter, the team’s coach stepped into the breach – and proved to be a star turn.

“This looked like the turning point for our season – we managed a fifth-place finish in the two-man and sixth place in the four-man, which we were very happy with considering our coach has been retired for the sport for over three years!” said Taylor.

Throughout the season, Taylor, who joined the Corps in 2016, is using the sled to raise awareness of – and money for – the Royal Marines Charity.

The team’s sled is emblazoned with the logos of various good causes the athletes are supporting – not least a large ‘Thank You NHS’ slogan on the front. Taylor’s efforts alone have raised more than £500 for his chosen charity (and you can add to the total on Just Giving).

The final race before the World Championships at Igls, near Innsbruck in Austria, saw the four-man team placed eight out of 22 competitors – just .9 of a second behind the winner.

You can watch Taylor and his teammates in action from 2.45pm on Saturday February 13 and 2pm on Sunday February 14 live on YouTube

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