My name is Dom Parsons and I compete for Great Britain in the Sport of Skeleton. I first got involved with Skeleton after I started studying at the University of Bath, and after splitting the last couple of years of my undergraduate degree whilst competing on the international Skeleton circuit I am now studying for a PhD in Mechanical Engineering and vying for a spot on the British team for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi (Russia).
Skeleton combines the power and speed required for a fast start with the finesse and timing required to build speed whilst sliding head first down a mile of ice. There are 8 races on the World Cup circuit, each at a different track in North America or Europe, and points gained in these races decide world rankings and ultimately qualification for the Olympic Games. This means that from the start of October through to the end of February I travel with the British team pretty much constantly, with a brief week and a half at home for Christmas at the halfway point in the season.
Due to the time we spend away I have no option but to suspend my studies during the season, for which the university have been very understanding so far. During the Summer I have to make up for lost time on my PhD whilst also balancing my time with training at the sports facilities at Bath Uni.
My PhD subject involves the effects of exhaust gas recirculation on a turbocharged engine, and so far I’ve been involved with running our test engine whilst also putting together a literature review around my subject area. I have to thank my supervisor, Chris Brace, for helping me to overcome various hurdles where my academic and sporting careers have clashed, and without his help things may not have gone in quite such a positive direction.
Balancing both academic and sporting commitments has been challenging at times, with both sometimes pulling me in opposite directions. Both my university and the British Skeleton Associ-ation have at times questioned my commitment because of me trying to spread my time between both, leading to me having had to suspend a year and change my course title as an undergraduate and having been deselected from British Skeleton programmes twice. Despite this I achieved a first in my undergraduate degree, and after having finished as the top ranked Brit in the World Championships last year, I recently won Britain’s first mens Skeleton World Cup medal since 2010 in my quest to qualify for the Olympic Games.
I am always grateful to the many people who have helped me get to this point in my journey, and will no doubt depend on their help many more times in trying to achieve my goals of completing my PhD whilst also competing for a medal at the Winter Olympics.