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Bobsleigh-Pickering swaps track for ice in shot at Winter Games

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LONDON, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Former British sprinter Craig Pickering is set to make his bobsleigh debut on Saturday as he starts his bid to compete at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Pickering will compete as a brakeman in the two-man bob at the World Cup in Konigssee, Germany having pushed a bobsleigh on ice for the first time this week.

The 26-year-old missed the London Olympics last year following back surgery and has switched his attention to bobsleigh after losing his UK Athletics funding in October.

British Bobsleigh performance director Gary Anderson said Pickering was ready for his debut.

"We wouldn't throw Craig into a World Cup race if he wasn't capable, but you're not going to see the best of him this weekend because it's his first time," he told the Daily Telegraph.

Pickering, who won a bronze medal as part of Britain's 4x100 relay team at the 2007 world championships in Osaka, said he was trying to get to grips with the technicalities of the sport, particularly in posting a fast start time.

"I think the quickest time a GB crew has posted is 4.98 seconds for the start, so if we can get into that territory it will be really promising," he said.

Britain has not won an Olympic bobsleigh medal since taking bronze in the four-man event at Nagano, Japan, in 1998.

Pickering's switch from the track to the ice follows the transition into the sport by American Olympic gold medallist Tianna Madison and hurdler Lolo Jones.

Former hurdles world champion Jana Pittman is also bidding for the brakeman's role behind two-time Olympian Astrid Radjenovic in Australia's team for the Sochi Games. (Writing by Justin Palmer, editing by xxxxx)

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