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Marcus Wyatt is bidding to prove there is more to Team GB’s skeleton success than girl power at the Winter Olympics in Beijing next month, writes Josh Graham.
The 29-year-old from Honiton narrowly missed out on selection for PyeongChang in 2018 but he has now booked his spot on the plane to China.
And after watching on as British women medalled in five consecutive Games for the all-conquering skeleton squad, Wyatt is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Dom Parsons who won the first male skeleton medal in over 70 years when he took bronze in South Korea.
“It would be a huge dream come true [to win gold], that’s what I’m aiming for,” said Wyatt, who is one of over 1,000 athletes who are able to train full-time, access the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support thanks to vital National Lottery funding.
“We’ve been so lucky in the fact that Lizzy [Yarnold], Laura [Deas], Dom, Amy [Williams] and everyone have been really good in staying in the programme.
“I’ve trained with Lizzy, Laura and Dom. I call them my friends and to have their experience is brilliant, it’s helped all of us massively.
“It’s a really great thing to have and to help us win a medal. If I can be that man that brings home the gold then that would be unbelievable.
“At the Olympics any medal is a huge success, if you offered me a bronze, I’d absolutely bite your hand off.
“The women have obviously had better results but the men have also had success, especially Dom, if I can keep that going that’s the plan.”
Considering there is not even a skeleton track in the UK, Team GB’s success in the sport boggles the mind.
Wyatt highlights the winning culture that can take athletes from different sporting backgrounds and propel them to unparalleled success, such as Lizzy Yarnold becoming the first Brit to defend a Winter Olympic title at the last Games.
After excelling in American Football for Swansea University Titans, Wyatt was aiming to play semi-pro in Europe before switching lanes to become a sliding superstar, a move he admits has revolutionised his life.
Wyatt, who is hoping to add to the 1,000-plus medals achieved by British athletes since the advent of National Lottery funding to elite sport in 1997, added: “It’s the culture [in skeleton that produces these results].
“Every athlete when they are brought in from different sports - the coaches and the staff know how to get the best out of every single one and ultimately turn them into Olympic medal-winning athletes.
“I think it just shows how amazing it is that we can compete with the best in the world and we don’t have a track.
“The philosophy for us is that we try and use it as an advantage. Other nations have multiple home tracks but as a nation we are really good at learning these tracks quickly when it matters.
“I wasn’t going to make it in other sports and it has transformed my life, so if that’s the legacy that is brilliant.”
Wyatt is full of confidence heading back to Beijing where he won silver in the Olympic test event back in October and would love nothing more than to repeat the trick when it matters most.
He said: “That was the only time anyone has been there, obviously apart from the home athletes. So, to click with the track and prove that I can perform there to a high level so quickly was a huge boost.
“I’m going out to Beijing and picking up where I left off. I’m not trying to make a huge jump to the medals - so that’s my focus.”
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