Sam Blanchet Feature

Sam Blachet Representing Exeter University, England 7s and Exeter Chiefs in Rugby Union & GB in Bobsleigh.

Back row to Bobsleigh-Former Men’s Rugby Sports Scholar Sam Blanchet Reflects on his first Winter Olympics

The 2018 games hauled the most amount of medals GB has ever won with a total of 5 and finishing 17th overall on the medals table. With Team GB sending its largest ever team of 59 athletes University of Exeter alumni Sam Blanchett was selected as a reserve for the men’s bobsleigh.  

A Sports Scholar and member of the University of Exeter Men’s Rugby Club, Sam has previously represented Exeter Chiefs and Bedford Blues playing at wing, centre and in the back row. Playing for Exeter Chiefs whilst studying a mechanical engineering degree at Exeter, Sam was part of the University of Exeter’s High Performance Programme and balanced elite sport alongside his academic studies. After graduating, he gained international recognition signing professionally with England 7s on the IRB Sevens circuit. Sam tasted what playing on the big stage was like (no I’m not referring to the annual Rugby Varsity held at Sandy Park) at Hong Kong Sevens in 2014 where England reached the final, in arguably the biggest and most well-known 7s competition on the planet. With his experience of professional and international rugby Sam was already accustomed to the international sporting stage prior to his transfer to bobsleigh, where he joined the GB programme in the summer of 2016.

We caught up with Sam to ask how it went and what his experience of his first Winter Olympic Games was like?

Sam: “Being at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games was an amazing experience. Having had a serious back injury earlier this year, it was a long journey to get back into contention for selection. We didn’t perform as well as we would have liked to as a team, but for many of us it was our first experience at competing in an Olympic Games and on that publicised level. I joined the GB Bobsleigh programme just under 2 years ago having previously played rugby union. I was looking for a new sporting adventure and so I went to an EIS (English Institute of Sport) testing day to see what other sports I would be suited to. Bobsleigh ended up being top of the list and I never looked back”. 

How did you manage your training load with new found bobsleigh commitments that meant you may be across the globe depending on where you are competing?

Sam: “Being based in Exeter I was fortunate enough to use the ADC (Athlete Development Centre) as an Alumni who is on the GB pathway in order to get ready for my initial trial. I’d like to thank all the S&C team as without this help I probably wouldn’t have had such early success in the sport. The world class equipment and excellent S&C in the ADC were undoubtedly a massive part of my success. I think my experiences in Exeter did help with what I’m doing now. Being surrounded by other sports and people from all around the world I got to see how they train and I applied some of their training methodologies along the way.”

What were your personal highlights at the games?

Sam: “I’d be lying if I didn’t say the stash (training kit) was pretty awesome and all the other freebies. The closing ceremony was awesome too. Martin Garrix did a DJ set and all the athletes were invited into the middle of the stadium.

What do you have planned for the future – more bobsleigh?

Sam: Having experienced the Games environment this will definitely help me in the future should I go to another Olympics. I know what to expect now and so it won’t be overwhelming. I think most of all it’s given me a hunger to want to be there again but next time in contention for a medal.

Making the World Championship squad and Olympic team in under two years, Sam has made huge strides in his newly chosen sport. Having all the attributes of an elite athlete and support structures around him, we are certain he will continue to excel in any of his chosen pathways and hope to spot Exeter’s Winter Olympian on campus soon.

Written by James Fleming (Sport Scholarship & Recruitment Officer) & Nicky Savill (High Performance Coordinator, Sport)

Date: 8 March 2018

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