Four Olympic stars who made skeleton our national winter sport

Four Olympic stars who made skeleton our national winter sport

16 February 2018 / 08:15
Could it be five in a row? Team GB have never failed to win an Olympic women's skeleton medal, since the sport made its debut at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City.

Here’s a look back on those successes, with a few words from stars gone by about 2018 hopefuls Lizzy Yarnold and Laura Deas.

And, of course, Dom Parsons's bronze means Team GB have now won medals at every Games since skeleton returned to the Olympic programme 18 years ago.

Alex Coomber, Salt Lake City 2000, bronze

alexcoomberThe former RAF intelligence officer won the British title at the first time of asking and quickly made the transition onto the world stage.

She won the World Cup title for three straight years between 2000 and 2002 and claimed silver at the World Championships in 2001.

She broke her wrist just ten days before the Games but still won a famous bronze with Americans Tristan Gale and Ann Parsley winning gold and silver on their home track.

She retired shortly after the Games but during her career set track records at La Plagne, Lake Placid, and Nagano. 

Shelley Rudman, Turin 2006, silver

shelleyrudmanShelley Rudman raised £4,000 to pay for a new sled for the Games, which reaped dividends when she won Team GB’s only medal in 2006 with her silver in the women’s skeleton.

She was thought a top ten contender but posted a series of impressive training runs and registered a storming second run to move from fourth to second.

On her return she received an open top bus parade in her Pewsey home town.

After Turin she won the world title in 2013 and the overall World Cup title in 2012. She carried the British flag at the 2010 Games and finished sixth on her second Olympic appearance and 16th in Sochi.

Now working with Eurosport in PyeongChang, she said: “Lizzy hasn’t had the best season but she’s a performer for the big stage but she’s going to have to put everything together.

“Laura is building and building and looked great in training. It’s her first Olympics and traditionally, in British skeleton, you medal at your first Games.”

Amy Williams, Vancouver 2010, gold

amywilliamsAmy Williams became the first British gold medallist in an individual event at the Winter Olympics for 30 years, following Robin Cousins' victory in figure skating at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, and the first British female individual Winter Olympics gold medallist since Jeannette Altwegg in 1952.

After missing out on selection for 2006, she made amends to win gold by more than half a second, upgrading her silver from the previous year's World Championships in Lake Placid.

She retired from the sport in 2012 after a succession of injuries and is working in PyeongChang for BBC Sport.

And she’s also backing the class of 2018.

“On current form Lizzy hasn’t had quite as good a season as past years but she always steps up,” said Williams.  “She always ups the anti when it comes to a major championships and thrives off the pressure.

“Laura has had a good season and is that little bit of an outsider, which can help. She’s got a phenomenal start and you could argue Laura is closer to being consistent than Lizzy.”

Lizzy Yarnold, Sochi 2014, gold

lizzyyarnoldsochiFlagbearer Lizzy Yarnold followed Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean and won her Olympic gold on Valentines’ Day.

Inspired to take up sport by watching Denise Lewis at the Sydney Olympics, she arrived in Russia as the new World Cup champion.

She had the fastest run of each of the four runs and set new track records on her first and third run. 

Yarnold's victory was the tenth gold medal ever achieved by British athletes in 90 years of Winter Olympics competition. She won the world title the following year before taking a one year break from skeleton.

Can she become the first British athlete to defend a Winter Olympic title?

Sportsbeat 2018