BRITISH BOBSLEIGH chief Gary Anderson is confident North-Easterner John Jackson will shake off the effects of a serious Achilles injury to drive GBR 2 at next year's Winter Olympics.
Bishop Auckland-born Jackson, who was raised in Barnard Castle but is now based in Trowbridge, is Britain's number one bobsleigh driver, but an Achilles injury sustained in the summer briefly put his Olympic participation in doubt.
He has spent the last two months undergoing an intensive recovery programme, and is due to line up at the opening World Cup event of the winter in Calgary next month, even though he concedes he is unlikely to be fully fit.
There is not much time to spare ahead of the start of the Winter Olympics in Sochi in February, but Anderson is confident the 36-year-old will be firing on all cylinders by the time the Games begin.
“Injuries never come at the right time, and especially a ruptured Achilles tendon,” he said. “But we sent him to a surgeon up in Scotland that's meant to be the best in Europe at these sort of repairs (Professor Gordon Mackay) and the prognosis is that he'll be back for the first World Cup.
“Our plans are exactly the same as they were before he was injured, although obviously we have to do things to get him back. We're planning to send him to the intensive rehab unit at Bisham Abbey as much as possible to get him the beat treatment.
“I have no doubt that he'll be there (in the Olympics). The fact is he's one of the best drivers in the world, and he's certainly got one of the fastest starting crews in the world. If we can get all of that right, we'll be there or thereabouts.”
The World Cup season begins on November 26, and Consett's Mica McNeill is also set to be involved in Calgary as she attempts to make a late push for inclusion in the Winter Olympic squad.
McNeill, who won a silver medal at the 2012 Winter Youth Olympics, spent most of last season competing on the second-tier Europa Cup circuit, where she achieved a number of extremely creditable results.
However, she was promoted to Great Britain's senior squad last month, and is expected to compete with Victoria Olaoye for a place in GBR 2, with Team GB hoping to enter two women's bobs into the Olympic competition.