Sport was always part of Joe Williamson’s life growing up in Bundaberg but he never imagined he would be part of the Australian Bobsleigh team embarking on an Olympic campaign.
Currently living on the Sunshine Coast, Joe was named in the team after starting in the sport only four years ago.
He said he tried the sport because former Australian bobsleigh athletes recommended he give it a go but, prior to that, he'd never even seen snow.
“Being named in the squad is incredible, there’s nothing I’ve done that is even close to standing on the start block with Australia written across my back,” Joe said.
“It’s a reward for a lot of hard work, but also a reward to the people who have supported me.
“It’s for them as much as it is for me.”
The team is due to depart to North America early this month, with only a few competitions standing between them and a spot in the 2022 Winter Olympics.
“The next competition for us is the North American Cup circuit which will take us up to Christmas, then to Europe to race some European cup races until the end of January when we will find out if we have crossed the line and qualified an Olympics berth,” he said.
Having been involved in local sport while living in Bundaberg during his younger years, Joe said he never thought he would be competing in an Olympic campaign, let alone in a winter sport.
“I never thought I’d be here, a few days out from leaving the country for an Olympic campaign in a winter sport after having grown up and lived in Bundaberg,” he said.
“The sporting community in Bundaberg really helped shape me as a youth athlete and I’ve carried a lot of my old coaches’ teachings with me since.”
With limited snow in Queensland, the opportunity to train with a sled proved challenging.
However it was Joe's dad Ivan, who still lives in Bundaberg, that came up with the solution.
“When I started, I needed a push sled of similar dimensions to a bobsleigh to train the push start and with my dad, being the handy man he is, was able to weld one together for me,” Joe said.
“The sled is actually kept at the Queensland Academy of Sport now, and all the members of the Australian men’s squad train with it.
“Without the sled, it would be impossible to train the push start, which is arguably 50% of the race as a good start is essentially to reach in peak speed sooner, and then obviously you’re down the track faster.”
The current men's team has been developing and racing for the last three years, with one goal in mind – to maintain Australian representation at the elite level.
Joe said the Australian team was looking to raise funds to cover the cost of their two and four man sleds.
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