Bicton College student and monobob athlete, Kelsea Purchall has reached new heights with her sport and now ranks number one in the world in her age group. Kelsea, who is currently studying towards an advanced apprenticeship in sporting excellence, is also an integral member of the College’s 16 – 18 year old girls’ rugby academy team.
At the beginning of 2015, Kelsea was selected for the Junior British Bobsleigh team, after finishing in third place at an International Monobob competition held in Lillehammer, Norway. This winter Kelsea has built upon this success with an impressive performance at the four youth qualifying races held in Calgary, Canada and Igls, Austria in November and December 2015 respectively. Gaining first and second place in Calgary as well as first and third place in Austria placed Kelsea number one in the world at her age group.
Of her achievement, Kelsea says: “The whole experience has been amazing, I never expected to be sitting at number one in the world rankings! It will be hard staying here as there are some amazing athletes. I always have to put 100% effort into every run to make sure no time is wasted in trying to perfect it. I have to make every run as quick as possible and consistently try to improve my time.”
Kelsea is setting her sights on the Youth Winter Olympic Games to be held at Lillehammer in February. With three races ahead of her before selection for the Olympics, Kelsea must keep her cool with some tough competition from several other nations including Russia, Germany and, of course, her own team mates from the Junior British Bobsleigh team.
Kelsea’s natural bobsleigh ability was predicted by her rugby coach, Chris Richards who says: “While Kelsea was on the AASE Girls Rugby programme at Bicton College, I recognised how talented she was. She’s a very good rugby player, and is both quick and strong. I knew she had the ability to become a top bobsledder. Her progression over the past eight months or so is phenomenal. From not even sitting in or pushing a monobob sleigh to being number one in the world for the women’s youth league shows her outstanding development. Usually it takes more time to adapt to a new sport like this, but her progression really has been rapid.”
Chris passed his observations to Lee Johnston, Youth Olympic team leader for British Bobsleigh. Lee says: “I invited Kelsea along to an evaluation event in 2014 after I was told about her physical abilities which meet all my basic criteria for bobsleigh: strength, speed and power. Kelsea immediately showed great promise.”
Lee concludes: “As Kelsea is now applying herself In the Gym and on the running track, I believe she could have a very bright future in bobsleigh both short and long term.”
Kelsea who is from Exeter concludes: “I love every second of being involved and I’m so lucky that I’m sharing the experience with such lovely people. At times it’s tough because I really have to push myself. It’s not just physically demanding but it’s mentally tough too, when we are at the track we have to put full concentration into everything we do.”