It is freezing in Germany, but the passion is burning bright for Sergeant Adam Baird as he prepares for his last race of the Bobsleigh season, supported for the first time by Sportside and with his new sled, funded by his new sponsorship deal.
“It’s properly cold out there right now, which has made the run [at Konigsee] much faster than usual, but with the new sled we should have a decent result this week,” says Adz, as he prefers to be known.
“It has been fantastic to partner with Sportside and it has given me the chance to get myself some new kit to compete at the highest level,” says the 30-year-old.
“We got the sled from Mica McNeil [a Team GB Winter Olympian]. Even though I am relatively new to the bobsleigh community, it’s a pretty small world and everyone knows everyone. Mica was getting a new sled herself so we were lucky enough to get this one.”
Adz is a pilot in a two-man bob that has been competing in the European dates this year and is looking to compete on the World Cup circuit next year. The Winter Olympics in Milan in 2026 was Adz’s original aim – but he’s not going to rule out the Beijing Games next year just yet.
“It’s a massive long-shot of course, but you’ve got to reach for the stars, haven’t you?” Adz smiles as he takes a well-deserved training break amid the beauty of the Bavarian countryside.
His smile is something he takes with him on all his training runs and in competition too, citing it as a big driver for success. “We should always be doing what we are doing with a smile on our faces, because we are living the dream aren’t we? What’s not to smile about?”
For Adz, the dream started to become reality when a fellow marine and Physical Training Instructor approached him in 2017 to go to Lillehammer to see what bobsleigh is all about.
Adz, who has always competed at a top level as a swimmer from when he was a child and had gone onto to play rugby union, sevens and rugby league for the Navy – as well as breaking British records in powerlifting along the way – said it was a sport that made perfect sense for him.
“I love the adrenaline of course – and you need to be powerful to be able to compete at bobsleigh. It’s not all about your own speed; you need the power to push that sled in the first place to generate the speed. It is ideal for my strengths.”
Adz says he is grateful to the navy now for allowing him to pursue his dream full-time, having been released from his duties in November. And now he’s looking forward to a strenuous off-season back home in Yorkshire – and at Bath University, which houses the UK’s only bobsleigh track.
“I’ll be home practising with my sled on wheels in Yorkshire, and doing a lot with my weightlifting coach, but then I will also be in Bath once a month, for a week where we will rent the track and hone our skills.”
Adz admits that the adrenaline rush of competing in bobsleigh is a big attraction for him and that it wouldn’t be for everybody. “One of the reasons I went for the marines back in the day was because of the slogan saying 99.9% need not apply. That’s the sort of thing that drives me,” he says.
“I am always up for a physical challenge and bobsleigh is certainly that.”
But, Adz explains, there is a lot more to it than that. “When you get to a track you don’t know, you have to walk the track every day – both ways. You need to learn the track. And then you go through the track with your coach. It’s about knowing where the corners are, when they are coming, and how you are going to steer them.
“Then you are ready to do the run, and it’s trial and error from there. Konigsee , where we are competing this weekend, is actually usually quite a slow track by bobsleigh standards (with speeds of about 115-120 km/h) but there are hardly any straights. It’s all corners so it is incredibly technical. Get one corner wrong and everything can go wrong very quickly.
“But, it is incredibly cold here this week so the course will be faster than usual which makes it even more of a challenge. The key is to always respect the track, do that and we should be alright. And then just keep your fingers and toes crossed.”
For those looking to see Adz in action this weekend, the action will be streamed on YouTube and, in the future, says Adz, the hope is more media coverage will enable more visibility of the sport.
“What Sportside is doing for the sport is great – because it deserves and it needs more coverage. It’s an action-packed sport and, even though we don’t have the runs in the UK, it definitely should get more attention.
“It is an honour for me to be competing in the sport and now I just want to go as far as I can with it and compete at the very highest level – and that means the Olympics. And with Sportside’s help I have just taken another big step to achieving that goal.”