THIS time last year, Mica McNeill was in a state of despair. Reeling from the news that the British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association had cut off her funding, the Consett bobsleigh driver feared her dream of competing at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang was in tatters.

What happened next was incredible, with McNeill launching a crowd-funding programme that raised more than £40,000 before teaming up with Mica Moore to achieve the best result ever recorded by a British female bobsleigh team as the pair finished eighth in the Winter Games. However, it was also exhausting.

So as she chats in the offices of her new engineering partner, Darlington-based Ardmore Craig, a couple of days before heading to the Canadian resort of Whistler to complete her pre-season preparations, the 25-year-old is happy to have moved on from one of the most chaotic, if ultimately rewarding, periods of her life.

Things are not perfect at the moment, with UK Sport having slashed their funding for bobsleigh to just £300,000, a sum that is insufficient to support male and female teams given the support structure that is required to get them on the track.

With private sponsors having come on board in the wake of Pyeongchang, though, McNeill is confident she has sufficient funds to compete on the World Cup circuit. That, in turn, should lead to a place in the World Championships next March.

“Everything that happened last year was incredible, but it’s not something I’d want to go through again,” said McNeill, who has spent the summer training with a sprint group based at the Allianz Arena in London, home to Saracens rugby club. “It’s going to be nice to be able to concentrate on racing without having to think about money and funding while you’re sliding down a track somewhere on the opposite side of the world.

“We know what our programme for the winter is, and hopefully we can focus all our attention on getting the best results possible. We showed what we could do at the Olympics, now we need to take another step forward from that. The goal is to win a medal at the Worlds.”

This summer’s relocation to London has not been the only major change McNeill has had to adapt to – having spent the vast majority of last season building up a relationship with Moore, she finds herself preparing for the new World Cup programme with two new brake-women.

Moore has stepped away from bobsleigh to study for a Masters degree, so Moore has teamed up with Montell Douglas, who was her reserve last season, and Alesha Kiddle.

“You’ve got to have a strong relationship with whoever’s in the sled with you because ultimately you’re in it together,” said McNeill. “If one person makes a mistake, the other one can’t put it right.

“But I know Montell pretty well from last year, and I’ve driven with Alesha too. It’s actually quite common to race with different people, so it’s not really that big a challenge to switch partners.”

Perhaps the biggest hurdle this winter will be dealing with the increased expectation and profile that is a result of last year’s off-ice drama. Having only stepped out of the junior ranks at the start of last season, McNeill was something of an unknown when her funding was cut. Not anymore.

“The support from the public was incredible, and I’m never going to forget that,” said McNeill. “It was just so humbling to know that so many people were interested in a sport like bobsleigh and wanting me to do well.

“I’m proud I didn’t give in, and proud I made to the start line at the Olympics. But most of all, I’m proud of the fact that myself and Mica put in such a good performance once we got there. I think we proved we deserved our place at the Games, and proved we were elite athletes.

“Now, it’s about proving that wasn’t a flash in the pan. I’ve put way too much into the sport to simply say, ‘Right, that’s it, I’ve been to a Winter Olympics, I’ve done what I want to do’. I want to keep improving and winning things. That’s the challenge for the next four years.”