My Skeleton Journey – From Athletics to Ice Track

Rachel Hanagan

  • 44.25% funded
  • £ 885.00 pledged
  • Days Left

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Welcome to my Pledge Sport Page and thank you for taking the time to read my story. It’s truly humbling to know there are people out there (like you) who are interested in helping me on my skeleton journey.

If you’re not familiar with skeleton, here’s a brief description. It’s basically like a giant water slide made of ice, which you travel down head first on a sled, reaching speeds of up to 140kmph and experiencing pressures of up to 5G, all whilst your chin is just centimetres from (sometimes on) the ice. And if that’s not thrilling enough, there are no brakes!!! For most people (including me initially) that sounds absolutely crazy, but once I experienced it I instantly fell in love with the sport.

Now I’m lucky and privileged enough to be able to continue developing as a skeleton athlete after being selected onto the British Skeleton Talent Programme to train towards the 2022/2026 Winter Olympics. This is a world class performance programme which in the past has successfully produced 2 gold medallists in Amy Williams and Lizzy Yarnold. I am hoping to raise £5,000 to contribute towards living costs for when I relocate to Bath in July to train full-time as a skeleton athlete, ultimately aiming to emulate the success of Amy and Lizzy.

The Journey So Far

So my journey into skeleton began the same way as a lot of the current GB skeleton athletes, which was through a talent search. Except for me it came about completely by chance, because I only became aware of the ‘Discover Your Gold’ campaign whilst attending a sport science course with the EIS. Ironically, the course was about working as a sport scientist in elite sport, little did I know I would end up in elite sport as an athlete! ‘Discover Your Gold’ was the biggest multi-sport talent identification campaign in British history, featuring more than 20 different sports and targeting 15-24-year-olds who can be fast-tracked into the world of high performance sport. The campaign was split into 5 strands and I was selected from thousands of applicants to attend phase 1 of ‘Discover Your Power’. This strand was particularly looking for the next crop of Olympic Champions in the sports of skeleton, track cycling, and sprint canoe.

As a former athlete (sprints and jumps, primarily triple jump) who had struggled with injury in recent years, my lifelong aspiration of becoming an Olympian was slowly slipping away. So when I attended phase 1 I was not expecting anything to come of it all, instead I was just going for the experience. How wrong was I? Since attending phase 1 on October 1st 2016, I have been on an incredible whirlwind of a journey being put through various phases of physical, sport specific and psychological testing. In the space of 4 months I have been challenged outside of my comfort zone, been pushed to the limits both physically and mentally, and eventually got to do what at the beginning of the process I thought would never happen… I got to travel to Austria and experience skeleton!

That decision to attend the assessment day turned out to be the best decision I had ever made, and going through this process has enabled me to rediscover my confidence and belief that perhaps maybe that dream I have longed for might still be possible. To be identified as having potential in skeleton and be offered such a life changing opportunity, I am determined to make the most of the exciting journey ahead.

The Journey Ahead

It’s taken a lot of hard work to get to where I am and it certainly doesn’t stop here. Ahead are hours, days, months, and years of endless commitment to one goal, the Winter Olympics. It’s not going to be easy and it’s bound to be a bit bumpy (literally) along the way, but the real hard work is only just beginning.

The first step is to leave my hometown of Canterbury and move down to Bath by July 1st to commence full-time training. Bath is the home of British Skeleton and location of the only push track in the UK, and will be where the majority of summer training takes place. Between October and March I will be travelling across Europe and potentially North America on various ice camps learning the tracks and developing my sliding skills. Eventually as I progress as a slider and start competing, this will extend to travelling to other areas of the World including hopefully Beijing for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

As an unfunded athlete at the start of their skeleton journey I am desperately seeking your support to help me on the challenging but exciting journey ahead.  Fortunately flights, travel abroad and ice camps are covered as part of the programme, however all the other perhaps “mundane” costs associated with being an elite athlete are not. So I am specifically looking for financial assistance to help pay towards rent, bills, food, equipment and UK travel costs. With your help I will not have to worry so much about just surviving day to day, but instead I can focus all my energy into training hard and committing fully to becoming the best slider I can be.

I am a dedicated and determined individual who has committed their whole life to sport, with the ultimate dream of hopefully one day becoming an Olympic Champion. Along the way I have faced a number of barriers which at times threatened to end that dream. However I battled my way through to what now seems to be a glimmer of light at the end of a very long tunnel. This once in a lifetime opportunity I currently have is certainly the best chance I will ever get at finally realising my dream, so I refuse to let money stop me now, and I hope you do too.

I thank you for taking your time to read my page, and I hope you can support me on this journey


To be Continued…

If you are interested to see how and where this journey goes follow me on twitter @rachel_hanagan

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