Crowdfunding Puts British Women’s Bobsled Team on Track to Winter Olympics

Their dream to compete in the Winter Olympics had seemingly come to a screeching halt back in September. Mica McNeill and Mica Moore, who make up Great Britain’s top female bobsled team, had just been told that the sport’s governing body had only enough money to send a men’s contingent to the 2018 Games, which begin this week in Pyeongchang.

But, with the same tenacity and resilience suited for driving a sled down a hairpin slope at 80 mph, the pair decided to change course by starting a crowdfunding campaign, to get the money they needed to compete in South Korea.

Their last resort effort to reach out to the public for help, returned an incredible response in just five days. As she recalls how crowdfunding raised £40,000 – well above the plea — to cover her team’s basic operating costs, McNeill’s face lights up. A majority of the crowdfunding, she said, is made up of small donations from more than 700 contributors.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of the free crowdfunding website, said that when athletes and teams do not have enough support from governing bodies, crowdfunding can fill gaps to provide for training, equipment and travel costs. Around $1 million went from crowdfunding sites to athletes from across the globe who requested donations to help them compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Now, McNeill and her partner – “Powered by the People” crowdfunding campaign — want to turn their short-lived devastation into an Olympic medal in Pyeongchang. McNeill, who had purchased her own sled to compete, has already won the 2017 world junior championship and a silver medal at the first youth winter games in 2002.

The British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association had initially chosen not to fund McNeill and Moore in the eight World Cup events that serve to rank teams for the 2018 Winter Games; yet, support three men’s teams because the federation was “focusing resources on winning medals at the 2018 Winter Olympics.”

But, aided by the public donations, McNeill and Moore team finished fifth at the World Cup, in November, in Canada, the best result for British women in more than eight years. Their next competition is far more daunting. Since women’s bobsled was added to the Winter Olympics in in Salt Lake City, in 2002, no British team has ever won a medal in the event.

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