Big Glees made the seamless transition from full-time soldier to full-time athlete and his hard work was rewarded when in 2018, he became Great Britain's youngest ever bobsleigh Olympian. He's got a potty mouth too which isn't even a warning. Just enjoy.
If we haven't mentioned yet, he went to the Olympics
TBM: Biggus Nickus thanks for talking to the platform. You are a unit sir and have had great success in your short career so far. Tell us how you got into the crazy world of bobsleigh...
NG: I got dragged into it! I wouldn’t have found bobsleigh without the military so, along with many other things, have them to thank really. I joined the army straight out of school. When everyone was going into year 11 (age 15/16) I went to junior training in Harrogate for the first year.
My goal was to join the Parachute Regiment though, so I went up to ITC Catterick to do Para Depot, then ‘P’ Company - which is the hardest training course in the British Army. I completed that, passed out and got to battalion in 2015. After that I did my jumps course which basically means I’m legally allowed to jump out of a plane into combat, yay!
"I’m legally allowed to get shot as I float to the ground, brilliant."
Then I travelled the world going to the USA, Falkland’s and Kenya within the first 8 months I was at work. As soon as I got to America I was slapped really fucking hard across the shoulder, ‘whack!’ by a former GB athlete I’d get to know really well called Sergeant Steve ‘Smudge’ Smith. He slapped me and screamed:
"MM THAT’S SOME FINE BOBSLEIGH MEAT RIGHT THERE!"
I turned around, scared, and he asked me my name and if I could run. I thought, ‘I’ll run away from you in a minute,’ and he basically said to me to come see him later in the year.
As winter started closing in, I got back from exercise in Kenya and he dragged me to Para Reg Bobsleigh trials which I passed and started training. After that they passed me onto British Army Bobsleigh where I competed at the Inter Services Championships in Winterberg, Germany. When I was there I put myself out for 6 months after I decided to burn my shoulder off around corner 9.
Caption competition on this one
TBM: Haha well that brings me to our second question, tell us about that monster scar on your shoulder?
NG: Well I was fairly new to bobsleigh at the time and had done a bit of pushing and a bit of driving. Inter-services was my first taste of competition and I had no idea burns vests existed. Before that we were using bits of rolled-up camping mat or just layered up jumpers and hoped to God the ice wouldn’t burn through haha.
Obviously when it came to race day though we were all back in lycra - no burns vest. We crashed out of corner 9 and the first impact went straight through the lycra and the labyrinth corners took away the first couple layers of skin. Then as we went round corner 14, big right turn, it continued to take all my skin off, nerve endings etc. A big patch turned white where I’d basically cooked the skin on my shoulder.
Wear your burns vest kids
TBM: Hence your tattoo...
NG: Yep labelled it, ‘love from corner 9 at Winterberg’.
At least it's barely noticeable now
TBM: Your journey to the Olympics was crazy. I remember we roomed together when I first met you in 2016 and at the time you weren't even aiming for Pyeongchang, you were looking to compete at Beijing 2022. Tell us about that...
NG: Yeah I had already had a chat with Smudge at the time, (who was still my coach before I was handed over to GB coach Chris Woolley). We’d looked at the pool of athletes who were there and thought they might be too strong for me to compete.
Obviously there were GB sprinters and England rugby players etc and I had no sporting background. So I tried to reality check myself a bit and think am I going to get to the 2018 Olympics? Probably not, but I’ve got nothing to lose in trying.
Then I just got my head down and trained hard. All my background was long distance tabbing and other military endurance work, I didn’t have a speed and power history so it was a challenge.
"One thing about that season will stay with me for life though."
At the last 2018 World Cup in Königssee, Germany before the Games, we were all waiting for a call from the GB Performance Director (shoutout Chris Price) for official Olympic selections. When we got our phone calls it was really important to make sure we kept it secret before official announcements because of potential appeals and all that shit.
But anyway I was sat in the front of the minibus with Andy Matthews and Toby Olubi (both Olympic GB brakemen), I turned around quietly, looked at them and said:
..."are you going?"
They looked at me and said:
..."yeah... are you?"
And I said:
Then we all went fucking mental. I’ve never seen a man of Toby Olubi’s size move around so animatedly. It was amazing. That moment will probably stay with me til the day I die.
Not just a proud British athlete, but a proud, serving member of the Parachute Regiment
TBM: That's a class memory my friend. Now, the next steps were even more challenging as after a promise of retaining UK Sport funding in 2019 subject to a major champs top 3 finish, you managed 4th at the Whistler World Championships. You were then told this wasn't good enough. What comes next after that disappointment?
NG: What comes next after being told top 4 wasn’t good enough? I was fuming when we heard the news, I hit the roof. We’d just come 4th in the world in a sled we had rented for a week. The three guys who beat us were all Olympic medallists and all with more driving and brakeman experience than myself and Brad.
For UK Sport to say that our efforts in improving a major championship best result from 12th to 4th in a year, with everything we were balancing wasn’t good enough, was really hard to take.
But it sparked a fire in myself, Brad and the other coaches and lads too. It gave us the fire to prove and enjoy doing it alone. Because when we do have that medal success, we want UK Sport to see that denying us support was the worst organisational decision they ever made. They will have no say or glory in our medal if we come home with hardware from Beijing.
Action man: an awesome activation from Team GB's 'kitting out' day
TBM: Plans for the Winter Olympics Beijing 2022?
NG: Plans for Beijing are just training and working extra hard man!
If this season goes ahead it’s going to be hard graft with the world being in the shit. I definitely want to get back on the 2-man as I feel I have unfinished business with it.
But I want the 2-man and 4-man to be in the top 6 on World Cup week in and week out. Then in Beijing I really want a fucking medal.
I don’t want to go there and ‘participate’ again.
Leader's box fun wearing his XXXXXL hat
TBM: Nick you're a legend thank you for this chat, it's been a good one. Now everyone's favourite bit. Would you rather:
Have your race-day helmet permanently smell like thick, heinous dog poo for the remainder of your career?
Always have a large, visible brown skidmark in the arse of your race suit every televised race for the rest of your career?
NG: Brad will probably back me up on this because I fart like nobody’s business sitting in cannonball position so maybe I already have skids. I don’t really like the idea of having shit in my nose all the way down a race.
TBM: Cool, so own the skids then?
NG: Haha na actually that’s a really hard one. Can anyone else smell the helmet?
NG: Na fuck it give me the shitty nose. I’ll take that over having skids in my pants every time the cameras are around. The lads from work would destroy me.
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