OPCLIFFE’S John Baines has been named as part of Team GB’s 56-strong squad of athletes for the Winter Olympics next month – thanks to last-ditch qualification.

The Middlesbrough-born bobsleigher will be part of GBR2, one of two crews that will go for gold at Sochi, in Russia.

Baines, 28, along with Ben Simons and former Beijing Olympian Craig Pickering, booked their spot after pilot Lamin Deen helped them scrape through qualification following the penultimate World Cup event of the season.

An 11th place finish in Igls, Austria, last weekend secured Olympic berths and ensured there will be two British four-men bobsleigh crews at the games for the first time since 2002.

Baines, who has been competing in bobsleigh since 2008 and is a communications specialist in the Royal Air Force, said: “It’s absolutely amazing to be chosen to represent Team GB.“Last week in Igls was a true testament to the team. We all pulled together – coaches, staff and athletes – to ensure we qualified two four-man sleds to go to the Winter Olympics.

“I am looking forward to putting on my race suit, standing at the top of the track and racing for Team GB at the Olympics – that has always been my dream.”