Last Thursday (19th December) aspiring British Skeleton sliders were put through their paces at Leicestershire Police headquarters in Enderby.
A group of 21 took part in a series of tests designed to stretch them and put them under pressure in readiness for the rigours of elite sport.
This included team building exercises and Police Support Unit training which saw them dodging petrol bombs, among other activities, with the help of Sergeant Mel Thomas.
In addition, they discussed mindfulness techniques in order to stay focused and achieve their very best.
The group are among a number of elite individuals who are in the middle of an intense application process to find the sporting stars of the future via a partnership between the British Bobsleigh & Skeleton Association, UK Sport and the English Institute of Sport.
It is hoped one or some of them could eventually join the likes of Lizzy Yarnold, a two-time Olympic Skeleton Gold medallist; Laura Deas, who clinched Olympic Bronze; and Dom Parsons who also finished with Olympic Bronze in South Korea earlier this year.
Skeleton is a winter sliding sport in which a person rides a small sled, known as a skeleton, head first down a frozen track while lying face down with their head just inches from the ice. Sliders reach speeds of up to 90mph and experience up to 5Gs of force over a mile-long track.
Following an unprecedented hat-trick of medals in PyeongChang in February, Great Britain are now the most successful nation in Olympic Skeleton history. The team have won medals at each of the last five Games since the sport was re-introduced to the Olympic family in 2002.
Sergeant Thomas said: “We were more than happy to put them through their paces to see what they’re really made of. Skeleton isn’t for the faint hearted and so we knew that throwing a few missiles at them, something our officers are trained to deal with, was the perfect test.
“Being at the top of your game doesn’t just mean being in prime fitness, it also requires a healthy and strong mind set in order to achieve the best results.”
The British Skeleton team train on a special push track based at the University of Bath but face unique demands in terms of travel and competition as they look to beat the traditional powerhouses of the sport such as Germany, Austria and Canada on a regular basis.
Neil McCarthy, Performance Pathway and Talent Manager at the British Bobsleigh & Skeleton Association said: “We wanted to find an opportunity to assess these aspiring athletes and take them out of their normal comfort zone.
“Skeleton as a sport and the nature of the competition structure is unlike anything these guys would have encountered, so we wanted to see how they react and manage themselves in tough scenarios.
“Given the excellent training of the police for similar challenging environments, this is a great fit for us. We are really appreciative of the opportunity we have been able to give these aspiring athletes and we look forward to seeing the benefits both short and long term.”