Lizzy Yarnold shone in Sochi as she blitzed her rivals by almost a second to claim Winter Olympic gold for Great Britain on this day in 2014.
A day that had started with a trip to the top of a nearby mountain and a diet of British TV dramas ended with a 0.97 seconds victory margin over her closest rival Noelle Pikus-Pace and handing a Valentine’s card to her boyfriend, sled designer James Roche, at the finish line.
Roared on by members of her friends and family at the Sanki Sliding Center, the 25-year-old from Kent turned a 0.44 sec overnight lead into an advantage of more than three quarters of a second after a track record-breaking third run which effectively sealed her triumph.
Her gold medal arrived on the 30th anniversary of Torvill and Dean’s victory in Sarajevo.
Yarnold said: “I’ve worked so hard to be in this position and I’m so proud that my dreams have come true.
“Races can be won and lost overnight so this morning I went to the top of the mountain with my friends and watched one of the ski events.
“I knew I had a 0.78 lead over Noelle but it’s just like any training run – the processes are exactly the same. I knew I just had to enjoy it and make the most of the whole occasion. I let the sled run a bit more than usual and I loved it.”
Any fears that Yarnold might let the pressure get to her had been erased in a commanding opening run in which she set a new track record.
When Yarnold slid over the finish line she immediately wrapped herself in a Union Jack and took a bag from one of her family members to hand to boyfriend Roche, who was among the family group dubbed the ‘Yarny Army’ cheering from the front row of the stand.
“It was a Valentine’s card – it was in the bag all week and I’d pre-planned it all,” said Yarnold.
Following her 2014 triumph, Yarnold won gold four years later in Pyeongchang to become Britain’s most decorated Winter Olympian and the most successful Olympic skeleton athlete of all time from any nation.
Later that year she was awarded an OBE before announcing her retirement.