Page 5 - issue05.04.2019
P. 5

Royal Air Force News Friday, April 5, 2019 P5


       Sochi sleigh star Stu

       enters the Bronze age

       Airman grabs Olympic medal as Russia drugs cheats ruling upheld

       Simon Mander
                                        BACK WHERE THEY
       AIR FORCE  bobsleigh ace Stu     BELONG: GB bob team
       Benson has finally become an     in action on the Sochi
       Olympic medal winner – five years   ice, right, RAF man Sgt
                                        Stu Benson
       after being denied his podium
       place by Russian drugs cheats.
         Benson and teammates John
       Jackson, Bruce Tasker and Joel Fearon
       finished fifth behind two Russian
       teams in the 2014 Sochi Games that
       were later banned for life.
         Disqualification for athletes
       in  both  Russian  sleds  for  doping
       offences means that the British
       crew are now officially Olympic
       Bronze medallists.
         Benson said: “I am absolutely
       over  the  moon  to finally get
       confirmation that we will be
       awarded our bronze medal from
         “It has, of course, been difficult
       to know we were cheated at the
       time, but the fact that justice has
       been done brings a sense of relief
       that all the effort has been properly
         “At times the sport is brutal but it
       has been worth every bruise, break
       and burn.”
         RAF team safety manager
       Squadron Leader Heather Ratnage-
       Black, who is also a non-executive
       director of the British Bobsleigh      That justice has
       and Skeleton Association, added:   “
                                        been done brings a
       “It’s great news for Stu and for
       British Bobsleigh as a whole.    huge sense of relief. It
         “Winning an Olympic medal is   was worth every break,
       an incredible achievement and it’s
       a great reward for the years of hard   bruise and burn  ”
       work and dedication that Stu put
       into the sport.”
         Athletes  from  the  gold  medal-
       winning Russia first team and   The  GB  four-man  squad  have   Sqn Ldr Ratnage-Black added:  long time to receive this news but   New medals will be minted to
       the second team who finished  endured an agonising three-year wait  “Integrity in sport aligns with the  Stu, John Jackson, Bruce Tasker  present to the winners Latvia.
       fourth were charged with doping  since the retesting of samples began.  key  values  of  the  RAF so we  are  and Joel Fearon have shown great   The  athletes  will  be  allowed
       violations following  re-analysis of   During that time there have been  delighted to see the right result being  patience over the last five years.”  to decide where they would like
       samples taken at the Games.   numerous appeals by the Russians  officially recognised, even if it’s a lot   Despite  being  stripped  of  their   to  be  awarded  the  medals,  with  a
         The bronze brings Team GB’s  to reverse the decision to strip them  later than we would all have liked.  places the Russian team are refusing  presentation at the next Winter
       medal tally from Sochi 2014 to five.  of medals from their home Games.  “The team have had to wait a  to return the gold medals.   Olympics in 2022 a possibility.

       WWII Spit hero laid to rest                                                                                                   News bulletin

                                                                                                                                 Drones deal
       A WORLD WAR II Spitfire pilot   WO Coates’ identity was later
       killed in the final months of the  confirmed through DNA testing with                                                     THE MOD  has signed a £2.5
       conflict has been laid to rest 70  members of the family.                                                                 million deal to develop a new
       years after his aircraft came down   His niece Shelagh Coates said:                                                       generation of battlefield drones.
       during a mission over Italy.  “It is a great honour for us to finally                                                       UK manufacturer Blue Bear
         WO John Coates was buried  put him to rest.”                                                                            Systems will produce around 20
       with full military honours at the   His  coffin  was  carried  by                                                         new UAV types to provide medical
       Padua War Cemetery in Italy during  personnel from RAF Halton. A                                                          assistance  bomb  disposal  and
       a ceremony attended by family  RAF spokesman added: “That we                                                              surveillance.
       members and RAF personnel.    have this opportunity to pay our                                                              The MoD hopes to develop
         His remains were recovered when  repsects to this brave pilot is a                                                      networks  of  ‘drone  swarms’
       the crash site was excavated in 2017  testament to the dedication of the                                                  designed to overwhelm enemy air
       by the Romagna Air Finders group.  Romagna Air Finders.”                                                                  defences, a spokesman said.
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