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Kent's Lizzy Yarnold takes Gold in skeleton at Winter Olympics in South Korea

Kent's very own gold medallist Lizzy Yarnold made sporting history today by becoming the first British Winter Olympian to retain her crown.

The former Maidstone Grammar School for Girls student, from West Kingsdown, held on to the skeleton title in a nail-biting battle in South Korea which saw her set a track record of 51.46 and an overall time of 3:27:28 - and revealed she nearly pulled out.

Yarnold, who was awarded an MBE following her achievements in 2014's Winter Games, took the race to an intense fourth heat decider in PyeongChang today, knocking the leading Austrian athlete Janine Flock into fourth position.

Lizzy Yarnold
Lizzy Yarnold

Following the win, the 29-year-old declared that she had been suffering from a painful chest infection which nearly ended her hopes of defending the title as she considered quitting the competition.

Talking to Matthew Pinsent, she said: "Yesterday after the first run I almost pulled out of the competition because my chest infection was so uncomfortable and I couldn't breathe.

"My physio Louise just gave me a talking to and said 'you can do it, you can do it' and if it wasn't for every single one on the team I wouldn't be here right now."

Kent's Lizzy Yarnold carried the flag at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics. Picture: Team GB
Kent's Lizzy Yarnold carried the flag at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics. Picture: Team GB

Yarnold was joined on the podium by fellow Team GB competitor Laura Deas, with the pair taking Gold and Bronze respectively.

Yarnold led Team GB's 59 Olympians out during the opening cermeony last week, the second time she was selected to be Flagbearer for Team TB, having done the job at the closing ceremony at Sochi in 2014.

She said of the honour: "My first reaction when I was asked to be Flagbearer was complete excitement and I’m really proud to march in front of the whole team.

"There are so many talented athletes competing here for Team GB at this Olympic Games and hopefully this can be the start of our most successful ever Winter Olympics.”

Lizzy Yarnold after accepting her award. Picture: Lizzy Yarnold
Lizzy Yarnold after accepting her award. Picture: Lizzy Yarnold

She told the BBC's Clare Balding before the race: "Everything is completely heightened; sound, sight, smell, everything.

"All this information is coming together to try and have the fastest run, it's like an orchestra of information."

She said she didn't realise how much of a toll intensive training would take, but added: "I love being an athlete.

"You never know what's going to happen until the finishing line.

"Everything is just done to the best of my ability. In all of life I just have huge expectation or hope for myself."


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