Olympic leader Yarnold confident but not complacent

14 February 2014 / 07:55

Great Britain's Lizzy Yarnold is taking nothing for granted despite taking a commanding lead into the deciding runs of the Olympic women's skeleton in Sochi.

Making predictions at the Winter Olympics is a dangerous business but Yarnold certainly couldn't be in a better position.

She arrived in Sochi as the hottest British favourite at these Games since Torvill and Dean, who by a twist of fate performed their straight sixes Bolero routine 30 years ago today.

The 25-year old has dominated the World Cup season, making the podium in seven out of eight races and winning gold on four occasions. 

She has been consistently the quickest in every practice session in Sochi and was fastest again in both the opening runs, meaning she will take a valuable 0.44 second advantage into the third and fourth run over American Noelle Pikus-Pace. 

Four years ago Amy Williams took a 0.30 second lead into the concluding runs and Yarnold will now look to follow her landlady's lead - and secure Great Britain's fourth consecutive Olympic skeleton medal - and second gold - later today.

"I don't feel the pressure, I've not been thinking about other peoples expectations because I've got such high expectations of myself anyway," said Yarnold.

"I was relaxed as soon as I got to the track. As soon as I stepped on to the start line my coach really settled me and once I started everything felt so natural and I loved it.

"You will never have a perfect run because it happens so fast, you just need to react to it. I've been trying lots of different things in training and I've brought that through into competition.

"The first and second run are the fastest I've ever gone. It's as good as it gets really."

Pikus-Pace, Yarnold's closest rival this season, even conceded she would be 'difficult to catch', though stopped short of saying silver is now the limit of her ambition, which would be a deserved Olympic medal after missing out so narrowly in Vancouver.

"She's pretty far ahead and it's a very large margin in our sport but it's not totally out of reach," she said.

"Lizzy is a born competitor and she knows how to handle the pressure. She will be ready to throw down some good times again. Any time you are ahead it is yours to lose but everyone is going to be chasing you."

British Skeleton's performance director Nigel Laughton admits he is constantly surprised by Yarnold's total commitment to the cause, calling her driven is almost understating it.

"She's an ultimate professional and she will come out with everything to prove because it's a good lead but not totally insurmountable," he said.

"She's had a great season and she's not done an awful lot different at the Olympics. 

"She's very good at switching on and off, she is so focussed when she needs to be and she's delivering because of it."

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