You've got to be in it to win it
Mark Hatton (St John’s 1995)
Mark Hatton first saw the luge on television during the 1988 Calgary Olympics. “I remember thinking, ‘that looks ridiculous… I’ve got to try it!’” he says. “After numerous phone calls, I eventually took my first run on the Igls track in Innsbruck, Austria. It was the fastest, most terrifyingly brilliant thing I had ever done.”
Competing in the Olympics had been a goal since Mark was 10 years old. “By the time I finally secured an Olympic place at Salt Lake City in 2002 at the age of 28, it was testament to years of hard graft,” he says. “I really felt like I had earned it, having missed out on selection for the Nagano Olympics in 1998, and that I was competing not just for me, but for everyone who had helped me along the way, including my parents, family, friends, coaches, and sponsors.”
His Olympic debut earned him the accolade of becoming Britain’s fastest ever Olympian in any sport, with a top speed of 86.7 mph. Mark went on to compete in his second Olympics in Turin in 2006, and has won the British Championships in the luge six times and the Commonwealth Championships twice.
While at Cambridge, Mark achieved a Blue in athletics and a Half Blue in ice hockey. Competing in Varsity Matches in both these sports is, he says, “right up there with the Olympics as one of my fondest sporting memories. There is something so special about competing in a Varsity Match in any sport. Every other match in that season is just training for the big day when you take on ‘the other place’.”
“Pre-competition for me is all about getting my mindset in the right place to be fired up, aggressive and explosive on the start ramp, then changing immediately to the controlled relaxation needed to drive the sled down the track at 90mph and still be able to handle the massive G-forces.”
And his favourite Olympic moment? Watching Steven Bradbury, Australian speed skater and Olympic gold medallist, in the Olympic final at Salt Lake City in 2002. “Steven was in last place by quite a distance,” he says. “Then on the final bend, one skater fell and took down the entire field, leaving our hero to take the win. It just proves that if you are in it, you can win it, whoever you are.”