THE Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) might not have completed its deliberations on the matter just yet but two-year-old Tom Benson at least is sure: his daddy deserves a medal. The piece of precious metal in question is a bronze from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, which Stuart Benson – a retired 36-year-old bobsledder from Troon – felt was tantalisingly out of reach when he and the rest of the four-man GBR-1 team finished fifth, 0.11secs out of bronze and behind two Russian teams, at the winter games three years ago.

Considering his driver John Jackson had only just recovered from a ruptured Achilles tendon at the time, Benson might have been content enough with fifth as he went off to pursue his career as a commissioned engineer at RAF Cosford. But instead that medal is tantalisingly close again, after news broke in late November of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) handing life bans to three of the quartet who finished fourth in the competition, having already disqualified the gold-medal winning team over offences committed by three of its four-man team, most notably Alexander Zubkov, the Russian flagbearer and the president of the Bobsleigh Federation of Russia.

The British team have already been upgraded to third, but while Benson has been encouraged enough by vague promises of a ceremony for the medal which is rightfully his at February’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, to clear his diary and broach the subject with his superiors, nothing is set in stone just yet. With Zubkov is one of the 22 names on the appeal submitted by the Russian Federation to CAS, at least it is hoped Benson should find out his fate one way or another by the time he boards a flight for the Asian sub-continent in February.

 “I have got work commitments in February, but I have spoken to my boss,” said Benson, now resident in the West Midlands. “I am technically a student at the moment - it is a university course that the RAF run – so I spoke to him and said: ‘what are the chances of me getting away in February for a few days?’ He said ‘what for?’ I said ‘potentially to get presented with an Olympic medal’ and he said: ‘I’m sure we can work something out’.

“But my feeling is that until we have that lump of bronze in our hands, it still takes quite a big leap of faith, to just assume that all the appeals will go through in time,” he added. “And I don’t want to be excited about the fact that people are cheating either.

“You want to stand on that start line in sport and believe that everyone is there through hard work, sacrifice etc and not doping. The fact that has happened, potentially, when we were having our best shot ever of an Olympic medal is quite disappointing. It is exciting to know that we might get a medal, but the most important thing is to make sure that the process is followed. Because there are still all these appeals, we don’t want to jump the gun too early.”

It is only when you go deeper into Benson’s backstory that you realise how this medal should have been his crowning moment. Coming from an athletics background as a sprinter, albeit with the kind of frame you might associate with Usain Bolt, he just missed out on selection for the Scottish team for the Delhi Commonwealth Games. It was then that he turned his attention to bobsleigh. A medal would validate years of graft, so it is little wonder if he and his wife Sarah – who works in para-athletics – young kids Tom and Pete and various assorted coaches and well-wishers who have helped over the years would be invited to join him in an almighty celebration in Korea.

“If we were to get it now, we would celebrate it just as much,” he said. “Definitely. There is talk of potentially sending the team out to Korea. Three of the four members of the team are out there anyway, two are competing, and John Jackson, my driver, is going to be out there commentating. So I am going to be the only one who is not going to be there. I would be sat back home otherwise, watching these guys competing on TV. While I have got my own life, family and job and things I still feel sometimes that I wish I was still in that sled!

“I have had a celebratory glass of champagne to know we have officially moved into third place, it is just that we haven’t officially been awarded a medal yet,” he added. “If the appeal is upheld, we might even get moved back into fifth.

“Funnily enough, if it all goes ahead and we get the medal and everything, it isn’t really about the medal - it is about knowing where you were legitimately at the time. The party will be because we are standing there with those same four guys who put us there in the first place, and the coaching staff, the support. It is everything that goes along with it.

“It is huge for the RAF too, for my family because we have sport in the blood. My wife works in athletics and we are sport through and through. It would be a great honour to go and get it properly. My wife is para pathway manager for UK Athletics. She has told me ‘if I’m going, then she is going too’. In fact, we might have to do some kind of crowdfunding to get us all out there. Tom and Pete weren’t around when it was all happening but Tom now says ‘well done on your medal Dad’.”