The sprinter turned bobsleigh athlete has both Winter and Summer Games ambitions
It took the adjudication of a court in Geneva last month to all but officially confirm Joel Fearon as an Olympic bronze medallist, but the fourth-quickest British sprinter of all-time is hungry for more, writes Mark Woods.
A second could come soon when the 29-year-old from Coventry acts as the propeller-in-chief of the British bobsleigh team at the Winter Games in Pyeongchang. That they missed out on enjoying the glory of standing on the podium four years ago in Sochi thanks to one of the many Russian dopers subsequently stripped of their medals gives them extra incentive to seize the opportunity to get there by right.
“What happened in Sochi is gone,” he declares. “I just have to see what happens this time. But it’s an exciting thing.”
However, the Birchfield Harrier, who ran the 100m in 9.96 seconds in Bedford just 17 months ago, still has unfinished business on the track. For a while, he was effectively retired from athletics, channelling all his energies into hurtling down the ice at speeds in excess of 150km an hour.
Bobsleigh, as a funded performer zipping around the global circuit, remains the priority but he would love to be one of the rare sportspeople to earn Summer and Winter Olympic medals, particularly if an invite comes to join a 4x100m squad that will now look onward to Tokyo 2020 following its World Championship victory in London.
“I will look at the next summer Olympics,” Fearon confirms. “But I think the guys did an amazing job and they really showed how hard Britain has been working and how much work they do behind the scenes that people don’t see.
“They had a couple of years dropping the baton. You don’t see that they’re pushing it so close to the limit that stuff like that will happen if you’re aiming for gold. In London they got gold. Maybe at the next Olympics they will get gold and maybe I’ll be there.”
Some view Fearon as a case of squandered potential on the track. After the 2014 Winter Olympics, when the British team originally placed fifth, he briefly abandoned bobsleigh – and the security of Lottery funding – to give sprinting his full attention but there eventually came an acceptance, he says, that one sport offered more tempting opportunities.
Hence, no regrets. “If I was younger,” he says, “I would have thought ‘maybe I need to do this…’ Being a bit older, seeing the journey I’ve gone through, I’ve taken the scenic route to going sub-10. I did show massive promise very young so I know how I’ve got here. But bobsleigh is definitely somewhere where I see my future – it’s where I want to be coaching. It’s the community I want to be involved in.”
But there will always be the lure of athletics. Perhaps as soon as this summer. Maybe as a two-time Olympic medallist with an eye on a third.
“Don’t worry! I will get that sorted. My wife told me I’d get a couple of years to pursue that. Just sort out Korea first.”