LERWICK Port Authority agreed this week to sponsor British bobsleigh team member Kenneth Simm from Brae to the tune of £500.
Royal Marine Kenneth, 25, has set his sights on becoming British champion this season. But until he becomes a champion at national level he has to provide his own funding.
The British Bobsleigh Association is in the process of reorganising and GB bobsleigh drivers who will be competing in the winter season of 2008-9 have been told they must fund their own teams as only national champions qualify for sports grant funding.
As a sponsor LPA will have its logo on racing helmets, the bobsleigh and transporter van. The port authority can also expect a visit from the GB team during the closed season.
This winter Kenneth expects to compete in the British and Interservices Championships in Cesana, Italy, in November, the Europa Cup Championship, which has eight rounds throughout the winter in various locations in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Italy and the World Junior Championships in Konigsee, Germany, in January.
Later in the season the sport will take him to Lake Placid in the USA where he will compete in the Americas Cup.
Kenneth is currently training full-time in Edinburgh, the Royal Marines having given him (paid) time off work to do so. His winter season will begin in November.
He is ultimately hoping to make the 2010 winter Olympics in Vancouver, but before that his biggest aim is success in the Junior World Championship at Konigsee, Germany.
Kenneth is now a driver, piloting the sledge in his bobsleigh team, which he admits was scary at first, and there are two crew members (with a younger “pusher” to take part in the Junior World Championship, for which you have to be under 26).
However none of this can happen without sponsorship. The total cost of a six-month season is £18,000, which includes travel, track fees, insurance and medical costs, and Kenneth said a lot would have to come from the team’s own money. He said: “It is very hard to get where I want to get to, but the rewards will be worth it.” He could not do it if he were not in the forces. He said: “I’m lucky the Royal Marines have faith in me.”
If the sponsorship does fall into place, the four team-members will visit Shetland at the end of next month, complete with van and bobsleigh displaying sponsors’ logos. Trips to schools are planned (especially to Brae High School, where Kenneth was a pupil).
Kenneth has already had a “long road” in sport, through cycling, athletics and windsurfing. He is now trying to get onto the podium at the elite level.