The Sochi Network

How Yarnold went from sledging novice to Olympic gold in five years

The Sochi Network

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Lizzy Yarnold is Britain's latest Olympic Champion in the women's skeleton but the most amazing aspect of her story is she only took up the sport five years ago.

In 2008, Yarnold, then 20, applied for the UK Sport and EIS Talent ID Campaign, after having a background in athletics as a schoolgirl.

Her older sister was identified for the handball and was eventually picked for Team GB's London 2012 side and Yarnold thought she might be suitable for a sport involving horses. Instead, UK Sport thought that skeleton would be a good fit and the rest, as they say, is history.

"It was my dream to be full-time in any sport and I had thought of modern pentathlon but in hindsight I was an avid skier. My sister was spotted for handball and I wondered what I could be good at," she said last year.

"Within three years of being selected for skeleton, I was winning World Cups, so it just shows that these schemes really work."

Yarnold was watching from her sofa when Amy Williams, now her landlady, won gold in Vancouver in 2010, but Yarnold took little time in making an impact when she finally hit the skeleton track.

She won the junior world championships in 2011 and then incredibly won gold in just her second ever senior World Cup race in 2012.

She then went on to win bronze at the World Champions in 2012 but it was not until this season that she firmly established herself as the best slider in the world – and how!

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

She arrived in Sochi as the hottest British favourite at the Winter Games since Torvill and Dean, who by a twist of fate performed their straight sixes Bolero routine 30 years ago to the day of her own gold medal triumph.

She was consistently the quickest in every practice session in Sochi before blowing the field away in the competition itself – winning by nearly an entire second – a huge amount in the Skeleton.

Not bad for a girl from Bath who five years ago was just a student who had never even competed in the sport she now dominants.

And at the age of just 25, who is to say she cannot be the best in the world for a few more years yet?

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