Yarnold happy to fly under the radar
Yarnold happy to fly under the radar

Kent’s Lizzy Yarnold is happy to be flying under the radar as she prepares to defend her Olympic skeleton title.

Yarnold, from West Kingsdown near Brands Hatch, was a red-hot favourite four years ago but arrives in South Korea after a difficult season that has seen her overtaken as British number one by team-mate Laura Daes.

But the 29-year-old insists that her unrivalled experience will count when it matters most, as she seeks to become the first British athlete to defend a Winter Olympics gold.

“I’ve never taken my eyes of the prize here, no matter what the results were saying,” she insisted.

“I didn’t get disheartened. I’ve always said this season was about being good in PyeongChang, nothing else matters.

“It’s certainly been an up and down season but it’s a reminder that sport is challenging and anything can happen. I’ve just had to focus on remembering that I’m good at doing this.

“The Olympics suit me, two days of competition under the most intense pressure. It rewards consistency and I’ve got that knowledge of having been there and done it – no-one else has that.

“It would be boring if I was winning every week, what would you write about?”

Yarnold, who will carry Team GB’s flag in Friday’s opening ceremony, is a woman of contrasts in a sport of extremes. One moment she’s careering down a track at 90mph, her chin just inches off the ice as 5G of pressure contorts her body.

The next moment she’s talking about making lampshades and taking a bookkeeping course for ‘fun’.

She famously celebrated her Sochi gold with a ‘nice cup of tea’, while her love of The Archers earned her a cameo in the radio soap of everyday farming folk.

Yarnold took a year out of the sport before returning to the ice last season, and while her rivals stepped up – Germany youngster Jacqueline Loelling is favourite for gold here – she insists she’s a better athlete for it.

“As I get older you have to accept that you can’t peak for every performance, you have to remind myself that the Olympics is the big goal,” she added.

“I’m only driven by these next four runs and that’s what has got me out of bed every morning. If I hadn’t taken that year off I wouldn’t be sitting here now. I had to take that time away to re-boot, to find that motivation.”

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