Downhiller hoping to improve speed

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THORNTON skier Rob Bullen is hoping to go up in the sporting world - by improving his downhill speed.

The 22-year-old is bidding to make his mark in the ultra-competitive world of skiing, as he makes sacrifices in pursuit of his goals in the ultra-competitive Alpine sport.

It costs him the best part of £35,000 to train, prepare and race, all without central funding, while seven months of the year are spent away from his Thornton home.

Bullen’s itinerary has taken him as far afield as New Zealand for specialised training.

Much of the hard work is paying off thanks to his dedication, and 2012 has been a year of gradual progress.

He won the British Championship in France, as well as the English giant slalom championship in Italy.

That has led him to being the fourth-ranked skier in Britain, but it is a measure of the work he still has to do that he is around 500th in the world rankings.

Back in Britain for a while, Bullen said: “Skiing is full-time for me, but I have to raise money through sponsorship and other ways, though it’s certainly not easy.

“From now until April, it will be more or less training and racing, though I will probably manage to get to spend a few days home at Christmas.”

One welcome source of funding for Bullen is via the Ben Trend GetInvolved Foundation, which has pledged £3,000 to him for two years.

The fund was set up in the memory of Fylde sportsman Ben Trend, who died in an accident in South Africa, and whose aim is to help projects on the Fylde Coast.

Bullen could not praise the fund highly enough.

He said: “I gave them the details of my career and plans and they came back straightaway to help me.”

Bullen added: “I am not setting myself any goals - I just want to get a high a ranking as I can and maybe progress to competing in World Cups.”