Winter Olympics: Yarnold wins second successive Skeleton gold as Deas takes bronze

Yahoo Sport UK
Lizzy Yarnold celebrates winning her second gold medal in the Skeleton (Andy J Ryan/Team GB)
Lizzy Yarnold celebrates winning her second gold medal in the Skeleton (Andy J Ryan/Team GB)

When it comes to sliding down an icy chute on a tea try, Great Britain rule the world – with Lizzy Yarnold our queen.

Already the reigning skeleton champion, Yarnold became the first British Winter Olympian to retain her title on Saturday, her rivals bowing down to her by a margin of almost half a second.

But that was not the end of matters with Laura Deas joining her on the podium in third as the nation celebrated having two different medallists in the same Olympic event for the first time.

Throw Dom Parsons’ bronze into the mix from 24 hours earlier and Great Britain had bagged themselves three skeleton medals in South Korea– extending a remarkable run which has seen them win seven medals across the last five Games and nine in total. Not bad for a country with no skeleton track.

The history books needed several other new entries last night too – the most successful day in British Winter Olympic history after Izzy Atkin earlier claimed Britain’s first skiing medal with bronze while the team’s current tally of four equalled Sochi 2014 and Chamonix 1924 for most medals won – with eight days still remaining.

But the undeniable star of the winter Super Saturday was Yarnold – although it could so easily have not been.

“After the first run on Friday I was almost at the point of pulling out. My chest infection was stopping me from breathing. I just tried to get the second run down and then fight another run,” said Yarnold, who moved up from second on her final run to knock Germany’s Jacqueline Loelling into silver.

“If it wasn’t for my physio Louise Turner telling me to go down again, I’m not sure I would be here. The emotions are gratitude to the whole team to get here, and relief, and exhaustion. And lots of crying.

Laura Deas celebrates her bronze medal in the Skeleton (Andy J Ryan/ Team GB)
Laura Deas celebrates her bronze medal in the Skeleton (Andy J Ryan/ Team GB)

“I believed I could do my best but it’s something scary to think that far ahead, that maybe I could be a double Olympic champion. I told myself to go down, focus on things to improve.”

When Yarnold won four years ago in Sochi, she was the bookmakers favourite.

This time around, with no race win since completing the career grand slam at the World Championships in March 2015, she was in danger of being overshadowed by her teammate Deas.

Both aged 29, and both having started their careers in 2009 through the UK Sport talent programme, Girls4Gold, their journeys have been a shared one, both of success and disappointment.

Yarnold revealed she had dreamt earlier this week that they had both finished on the podium together – albeit with her as champion– although she hadn’t dare tell her teammate. Now, she proudly proclaimed ‘we will be on each other’s mantelpieces forever more.”

Deas was equally emotional, also letting the tears flow post race.

“I can’t believe I am part of a Super Saturday, I never thought I’d be saying that. I’m just extremely proud to be part of an historic day,” she said.

“Lizzy is such a phenomenal athlete, she is so consistent and she knows how to bring it when it matters.

“I am privileged to train alongside her and count her as one of my best friends, to share an Olympic podium with one of my best friends is just incredible.”

Long live Queen Lizzy.

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