AN airman from RAF Boulmer has been selected for the Great Britain bobsleigh squad on the European and World stage this winter.
Corporal Keith McLaughlin, 29, has been through a tough selection process over the last few months, culminating in a week of intense training and final trials at a winter training camp in Sigulda, Latvia. He will now compete with Team GB2 in the two-man and four-man Bob in the World Championships, which begins this month and in the Europa Cup throughout the season.
Keith is one of three Royal Air Force personnel who will form part of the squad and believes that being in the Royal Air Force equips him well for his sport.
“It’s all about teamwork, which is paramount in bobsleigh and it is very much like being on detachment with the RAF – you live, sleep, eat and travel together for three to four months, building up the team and working together to get the best result we possibly can.”
Keith has been training hard throughout the off-season, working on his general speed and strength. However, pushing, sprinting and loading into the bobsleigh is a difficult and extremely technical art and training in Latvia has been intense, with the team having to get used to pushing a bobsleigh on ice after months of dry-land training at Bath University – the home of UK bobsleigh.
Keith has had a meteoric rise from his novice status in 2006. He only became interested in the sport by chance when a work colleague who was due to attend trials for a novice camp at RAF Cosford invited him to go along on the day – he discovered his talent for it and he was hooked. He became part of the RAF team and was later invited to attend a talent identification weekend at Bath University, where he came to the attention of the GB selectors and he has represented his country for the last three seasons.
Keith works as an aerospace systems operator at RAF Boulmer, making a vital contribution to the defence of the United Kingdom. On a day-to-day basis, he is part of a large team that uses some of the most advanced radar and computer systems in the world to identify aircraft, plot their speed and determine their position.