Updated: Friday, 29th August 2014 @ 6:53pm

Withington’s Lamin Deen: Team GB’s bobsleigh team have the talent to win in Sochi, but we need more funding

Withington’s Lamin Deen: Team GB’s bobsleigh team have the talent to win in Sochi, but we need more funding

By Steven Oldham, Sport Correspondent

Team GB bobsleigh pilot Lamin Deen is convinced that the team can rival the great nations of the sport – but only if much-needed funding is found, and fast.

Deen is confident in Team GB’s ability, and believes that the country’s moderate climate should not stop us excelling at winter sports.

However, as with all sport – results count. The men’s bobsleigh team is entirely self funded, with no money coming from the authorities.

“It’s a vicious circle. No medals at the last Olympics means the men’s programme hasn’t any funding so it’s really hard for us,” he said.

Great Britain last medalled at the Olympics back in 1998 at Nagano, when the four man squad won the bronze medal as Germany, overall leaders, took one of ten golds in the history of the Games.

“We’ve got the competitors to rival the Germanys, the Canadas, the USAs, no doubt,” he said, before adding: “The difference is the amount of funding they receive – we have to do it ourselves.”

Lamin points out Amy Williams as an example for the GB team to aspire to – Williams won gold in skeleton at last year’s Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

The GB bob team share training facilities at the University of Bath with the skeleton team, including Williams.

He said: “There is no real ice track in the UK because of the weather – we get on ice experience at training camps abroad.”

Deen and the rest of the team have just returned from such a training session in Latvia – ahead of next month’s British Championships... to be held in Winterberg, Germany.

“Obviously it’s called the British Championships but we’ve not got the facilities here, so it changes each time – we race quite a lot in Winterberg so we’re looking for a good performance,” he said.

Deen appears confident before the Championships, where he will be taking part in both the two and four man disciplines.

He said: “The ultimate aim is to win. We want at least a podium in both events. Realistically in the two man we should be aiming for the win.”

Lamin admits he has a clear favourite discipline.

“I much prefer the four man. There’s a brilliant atmosphere within the team and it’s a completely different - and better feeling when you win,” he said.

He says his Army background has helped him on the ice. Lamin, or Lance Sergeant Deen to give him his official title, is a member of the Grenadier Guards.

“My Army training has definitely helped – not physically, but mentally, - you have to be robust to do this sport,” he said.

Lamin said that this is in case of a crash – like the one he was in a couple of years ago in Winterberg, where he walked away unscathed from a 95mph smash.

“If you’re not hurt, you have to go back to the top and start again with people watching you – you have to be robust to do that, and the Army instils that in you,” he said.

That crash was down to driver error – Lamin wants to disprove the common misconception that the team just sit in the sleigh on the way down.

He said: “If you get in and do nothing on the ride down, you’ll crash at the first corner, let me assure you.”

He has represented the services in athletics, boxing and basketball before turning his attention to bobsleigh.

“I was taken from the athletics track and asked to give it a go. I ended up loving it, and I’m still here now,” he said.

A big boxing fan, it was the ring where Lamin found his biggest sporting hero, Frank Bruno.

He said: “Frank was a battler. I’m a battler myself. That quality alone made me warm to him, and I think the team has to have that battling spirit to get to the top.”

He hopes to emulate Bruno’s success and be the best in the world. With such determination and drive, only a fool would dismiss him lightly.

The British Championships are being held in Winterberg, Germany between 24 and 29 October.

For more information on Lamin and his teammates, visit

www.britishbobsleighteam.co.uk. He is also looking for sponsorship to help fund his Olympics dream. Get in touch with him at lamin.deen@bobteamgb.org