Bobsleigh star Greenwood is fighting fit as he makes impressive progressive over frantic and freezing festive period
Team Kennet sprint coach Leon Greenwood admits he’s never felt better as he attempts to help the Great British bobsleigh team to World Championship glory.
Greenwood, who was part of the GB team that won silver at last year’s event in Saint Moritz, has had an intense start to the winter season that’s been as frantic as it is freezing, competing 10 times across six days in minus 21 degree temperatures at the Europa Cup in Lillehammer, Norway.
And Greenwood, who as brakeman is the power behind the 400-pound sled, says he’s never been in better shape as he bids for more success at the World Cup in Austria.
“I’m feeling really good,” he said.
“Physically and mentally, I’ve been fatigued because it’s been such an intense time competing.
“It’s the hardest thing I’ve done in a long time but also one of the best. It’s been incredible.
“I’m fired up and ready to go.”
Greenwood, still a relative newcomer to the sport, was competing in a two-man team for the first time ever, while also getting used to new teammates for the four-man races.
Alongside his fellow British athletes, he enjoyed some excellent results in Scandinavia, finishing in the top six in the two-man races and securing an impressive top three start in the four-man.
He said: “It’s weird bobsleighing, because if you came sixth in any other sport, you might think that’s rubbish.
“In bobsleigh, it’s a really good result because we’ve got some seriously good competitors, especially the Germans who are the top guys at the moment.
“We were right in the mix with them, especially on the start, which is really important to me as the brakeman. It’s a sport of fine margins.
“We’re a brand new team, so it’s been amazing. It’s the best results we’ve had in the Europa Cup.”
Greenwood’s pre-season began in Oberhof, Germany, before he headed north to Norway for the Europa Cup.
Now, he’s with his compatriots in the Austrian Alps as he aims for more progress in the World Cup.
Following a serious injury almost three years ago and a broken toe that kept him out for half of last season, Greenwood says the biggest positive from an intense festive season is that he’s feeling fighting fit.
“It’s been the biggest challenge, and it’s the biggest thing for me,” he said.
“Racing three or four days in a row is almost unheard of, but your teammates and the adrenaline keep you going and gets you through.
“The last day in Norway was a struggle, it was so cold that we couldn’t even warm up. As soon as you step outside, you freeze.”
With a succession of injuries to the World Championship silver medal winning quartet, Greenwood has been getting used to new teammates as well as a new sled, designed by McLaren.
He said: “It’s a dangerous sport, so it’s so important that you trust each other.
“Luckily, we’ve been getting on like a house on fire.
“We say the sled is like a three-and-a-half man sled, so there is no room for mistakes. We’ve all got a lot of faith in each other.
“It’s not just pushing a bobsleigh, it’s the early mornings and late nights, the long hours and hard work that make a good team.”
Greenwood’s bobsleigh career was almost over before it had even begun after he was told by surgeons he’d never be able to sprint again but defied the odds thanks to the help of family, friends, specialists and his own mental toughness.
In particular, the charismatic and charming British athlete credits his strength and conditioning coach Warren Beattie, his sprint coach Emma Hooper and his partner Nicole Cockburn with helping him head into the season in the best shape he’s ever been in.
“I’ve got a brilliant support network – without them I’d be nowhere near where I am,” he said.
“The injuries have been difficult, but I’m not sure if I’d be here if they never happened.
“My mindset has totally transformed and I’m a completely different athlete, physically and mentally.”
After competing in Norway, Greenwood will turn his attention to February's World Championships, which will be held in Germany.
“Everyone in Team GB is going out to practice before Christmas,” he said.
“After coming second last year, the gold medal has to be the aim.
“We’ve had a lot of injuries, so it has been really challenging, but people are starting to get back fit again.”
In the long term, Greenwood is dreaming of the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan – and he feels he’s sledding in the right direction.
He said: “That’s the end goal. I just need to keep healthy, not overtrain and not do silly things. I used to do extra training all the time, but that isn’t how to stay fit.
“I feel prepared and I feel fit. I’ve got a long way to go but I’m just enjoying it while I can.”
Greenwood is always on the lookout for support and sponsorship. To keep up to date with his progress, you can follow him on Instagram.