Laura Deas

Pyeongchang-hopeful Deas on having her own Rio 2016 countdown



Pyeongchang-hopeful Deas on having her own Rio 2016 countdown

01 March 2016 / 15:18

With the understandable focus on the Rio 2016 Olympic Games this year, Team GB’s winter sports athletes could be forgiven for feeling somewhat left out in the cold.

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Yet skeleton star Laura Deas is adamant that seeing her compatriots on the road to Rio is simply whetting her appetite for Pyeongchang 2018.

The reality is that the Opening Ceremony for those Winter Olympics is now less than two years away, which is not a huge amount of time when it comes to elite sport.

Deas, who is based in Bath – the site of the UK’s only bobsleigh and skeleton push-start track – is certainly on track to make her mark in South Korea after winning gold in Altenberg in the opening skeleton World Cup race of this season.

And she claims she is as excited as anyone to watch Rio 2016 with the event doubling as an important milestone in her own Olympic journey.

“For us Rio marks the halfway point, so as soon as Rio is out of the way it will feel all downhill to Pyeongchang, and that will go very quickly,” said Deas.

“It’s great to watch an Olympics and be inspired by everyone’s performances. We train in Bath with a lot of athletes who will be there, so we’ll have quite a personal connection with the Games.

“Hopefully it will continue a really good legacy from London and hopefully we can carry that momentum on into Pyeongchang.”

For a country without a skeleton track, Great Britain’s success in the sport is simply extraordinary.

Since its debut at Salt Lake City 2002, Team GB have won a women’s skeleton medal at each of the four Winter Olympic Games – two golds, a silver and a bronze.

Those two gold medals came from Amy Williams and Lizzy Yarnold at Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014 respectively.

Deas is hoping to be the latest Brit to stand on the top step of the podium come Pyeongchang and concedes there is an element of pressure to emulate past successes.

“There is that sense of expectation, that we’ve won an Olympic medal pretty much every time, so we’ve got to do it again,” added Deas.

“At the same time, it brings a lot of confidence because the same program that I’m in is the programme that has produced all of those medals, so I know that I’m I good hands.

“We’re working at the right things, so it actually brings more confidence than anything else.”

Deas first took up skeleton in 2009 thanks to UK Sport’s talent programme Girls4Gold meaning she is one of the more senior figures in the Team GB skeleton ranks, despite being just 27 years old.

And while the long-term aim of all of the British athletes is beating the best in the world, Deas attributes the success of the programme to first having to prove yourself against talented compatriots.

“One of the things our programme does very well is create internal competition,” she explained.

“I don’t think we would have had the results we’ve had if we didn’t have such a strong group of athletes within the programme.

“Even for our World Cup programme, you’ve got to beat off all the other British athletes in the first place and that sets a certain standard.

“I think the more competitive and strong people we’ve got in the programme, that’s only going to drive on the standard, and force everyone to be at their absolute best the whole time, which is great.”

Sportsbeat 2016