Deas determined to extend British line of skeleton golden girls

Laura Deas will not crumble under the weight of expectation as she aims to extend Team GB’s line of glittering skeleton golden girls.

The sliding star banked bronze at PyeongChang 2018 as Lizzy Yarnold captured hearts to become the most decorated British Winter Olympian of all-time.

Yarnold’s second crown in South Korea saw her emulate her Sochi success while four years earlier in Vancouver, Amy Williams shattered new ground to become the first British athlete to win a solo Winter Olympic gold for 30 years.

Shelley Rudman scooped silver at Turin 2006 and with Beijing 2022 just under 20 days away, Deas is the current skeleton star carrying the nation’s hopes and dreams.

But she’s refusing to be daunted by the prospect of public pressure and says her four-pronged team alongside Marcus Wyatt, Brogan Crowley and Matt Weston are ready to fire on all cylinders in China.

She said: “I’m a competitive athlete and I want to go out there and win another medal.

“That’s why I’ve trained as hard as I have for the last four years. I definitely don’t feel like I’m holding that [expectation] by myself – I’ve got a team of athletes with me who’ve got a huge amount of potential, are really talented and have all shone at various points this season.

“Together, our combined effort to go out there means we can come back with some pretty stunning success.

“It’s a different mentality coming into Beijing – I know I’ve stood on that start line four times and delivered under pressure at the previous Olympics, so I take a massive amount of confidence from the fact that I’ve tested myself and come out on top. I will be using that as a source of confidence.”

Yarnold powered to a second skeleton triumph on the spin four years ago to see off Jacqueline Loelling – and Deas – and become the first ever athlete to defend an Olympic skeleton title.

Team GB’s Bath-based sliders are a close-knit bunch and Deas, who grew up playing hockey in north Wales before turning her attention to skeleton, has kept in regular contact with the Winter Olympic immortal since her retirement in 2018.

It’s not just skeleton on the decorated duo’s radar and Deas, also the first Welsh woman to win a Winter Olympic medal, added: “[Me and Lizzy] chat a lot.

“She’s been doing a really great job of keeping me going this season when times have got tough.

“We don’t just talk about skeleton – but it’s a hot topic, particularly during the winter. She’s been great at dishing out some handy advice and reminding me of the times we’ve been really successful together.

“You need friendships like that – every athlete needs that to keep them positive and moving in the right direction, and we’re no different.”

Deas has endured a rocky ride on the Skeleton World Cup season but did notch an 11th-place finish – her best of the campaign – at the European Championships in St. Moritz this month.

She spent over three weeks competing at a Yanqing test event – where the Olympic skeleton, bobsleigh and luge events will be held – back in November, however, and hopes to be hardened for battle when she takes to the Beijing track next month.

Peaking at the perfect time would be the best way to banish her World Cup demons and Deas is determined to achieve ‘something special’ in the Chinese capital.

“This season has been pretty up and down,” she added.

“I’ve learned a huge amount and it’s not gone as well as I’d have like to in terms of outcomes, but we’re constantly trying to learn and figure things out.

“We don’t roll everything out as a finished product until the Olympics itself, so I still very much feel like when we’re there and put our entire package together, I can still go and do something special.”