Lizzy Yarnold continues Britain's dominance of skeleton at games

The bubbly athlete from Kent continues the country's dominance of the high-speed sport

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 February, 2014, 10:31pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 February, 2014, 10:41pm

From relative obscurity to Olympic skeleton champion, all season long Lizzy Yarnold has appeared destined for the top of the podium and the bubbly Briton duly delivered with gold at her first games.

Yarnold's commanding victory suggested she was racing against herself and a Sanki track she gleefully admitted more than once that she loved.

In emulating her friend, the 2010 champion Amy Williams, Yarnold, 25, justified the faith of scouts who saw a multitalented, committed and success-driven young athlete who could adapt to the sport's high-speed dangers and quirky intricacies.

It's hard work and dedication, I've been training after school since I was 13, and maybe I'm naturally good at skeleton
Lizzy Yarnold

Flinging yourself head first down an icy chute on a sled at high velocity is not for the faint-hearted but a then-teenaged Yarnold felt right at home.

Success came with the world junior title in 2012 and this season the relentless climb to the sport's summit was reflected with a first World Cup title last month, swiftly followed by Olympic gold.

Yarnold, who grew up "running around the fields of Kent and playing every sport available", first shone as a heptathlete.

She also enjoyed high-board diving, horse racing, tennis and even the pole vault.

"I have worked so hard to get into this position and I am just so proud that my dreams have come true," she said.

"It's hard work and dedication, I've been training after school since I was 13, and maybe I'm naturally good at skeleton."

Now she hopes to inspire young athletes "to follow their dreams, that you don't give up, and if you keep dedicated, you will get there".

She began her journey in skeleton as a 19-year-old through a Girls4Gold talent scheme but her path to Olympic glory was not always paved with gold - and required a benefactor.

So hard up for cash to buy a bag for her precious sled runners, she walked around with a "sponsor me" sign. It worked.

A work colleague handed her the money and she named her sled Mervyn after him.

From a nation not renowned for winter sports, skeleton has proved the exception - if you are a British woman.

Skeleton became part of the Olympics in 2002. For Britain, Alex Coomber won bronze in Salt Lake City, Shelley Rudman's took silver in Turin and then William struck gold in Vancouver.