Williams: Schedule cost skeleton focus
A heavy Olympic gold medal was not the only thing weighing down British skeleton racer Amy Williams after the 2010 Vancouver Games as she found out when a hectic schedule put paid to her training.
Williams was so in demand after breaking Canadian hearts at Whistler by beating home favourite Mellisa Hollingsworth to gold on February 20 that she was invited to events she would never have expected to attend in previous times.
"I never dreamed of the gold, and then what? You come home. A lot's expected of you when you come home. Suddenly training disappeared out the window because I was too busy," the bubbly 28-year-old told Reuters on Thursday in a restored London power station.
"You go through a period in life that you've never been through before, you've never felt those feelings. They're good and bad. It's quite a hard place to be."
As a result of time away from training for the sport she has been "obsessed" by over the last four plus years, Williams missed out on valuable points necessary to qualify for last February's world championships which allowed her compatriots to compete and close the gap.
She is not perturbed however.
"I want to get back on the team, fight my way back in," Williams said with the same smile that lit up Whistler.
"Everyone's biting at my heels, and I know what they're feeling, that fire to want to go to the Games. "But now I'm back in the gym, I'm loving it, I want to get better and quicker and I know that I've still got a lot in me to give."
Williams became the first Brit to win individual gold at the Winter Olympics since 1980 when she flew down the track at speeds of up to 90mph in the nerve-jangling event that was once derided as "sliding down a track head-first on a tea tray."
The courage and desire that drive her were all too evident when she was asked whether she is frustrated by her sport's low profile.
"I didn't get into skeleton to be famous or make money because there's none of that in my sport, so I need to get skeleton out there and advertise it," she said at the Kinect Sports Superstars event.
"We're always training. We might not be competing or in the papers and we might only pop up every four years, but we're training just as hard. No one knows how much we put in unless they're family or a close friend."
The skeleton season starts in October and consists of eight World Cup races, at which Williams will hope to gain qualification for the 2012 world championships in Lake Placid where she won silver in 2009.
"It's hard to think that I've already got my ultimate goal and everything else is a bit of a bonus. But I still love racing and until that feeling disappears I'll keep being an athlete."
Her dream is to defend her skeleton title at the 2014 Olympics in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi.
"No one's ever got two medals. Is that enough to keep going? For me the enjoyment of being at the Games is amazing. I loved every single minute. I would want to live that again and get a place.
Amazingly for a Winter Olympian, Williams has never skied.
"You don't have time when you're an athlete to go off and do different things. You don't get days off. A day off is driving eight hours to the next country. No skiing," she said with a rueful smile.