Yarnold sticking with skeleton

Blackpool Citizen: Lizzy Yarnold has not intention of switching sports Lizzy Yarnold has not intention of switching sports

Winter Olympics poster girl Lizzy Yarnold has pledged her future to the skeleton discipline after returning with Team GB's sole gold from Sochi 2014.

The 25-year-old cannot believe her imperious campaign ran so smoothly, smashing the course record twice en route to glory.

Yarnold only switched from heptathlon to skeleton aged 19, and there had been suggestions she may look to try a new challenge after Sochi, but now she has dispelled any notion of starting from scratch in yet another event.

"I absolutely love skeleton. I didn't find it until I was 19," said Yarnold, on her return from Russia to Heathrow Airport.

"I just love skeleton, so that's my future."

The Sevenoaks-born athlete admitted acting as Britain's flag-bearer for the closing ceremony was more nerve-wracking than hurtling towards gold.

"Bearing the flag was the most frightening experience of the last two weeks," she said.

"I was separated from the team for the last two hours, while they were all hanging out together.

"To represent them all was a great honour.

"I only heard about it the day before, so I didn't get any flag-waving practice or anything!

"I was crying before I even went out to the stadium.

"Compared to the competition, I felt like there was more pressure.

"I've got so much respect for everyone and I've learned so much over the last two weeks."

Yarnold came into the Olympics as one of the favourites after claiming the World Cup title but admitted she was still nervous ahead of her first run.

"It was so nerve-wracking preparing for that first run because I'd done everything I could," she said.

"The track record with the first run - that was a complete surprise.

"I still haven't really seen the time-sheet.

"Looking back on the whole thing, I can't really believe it went so well. I'm so, so pleased with it all.

"It's hard to start to explain how it all began.

"It started when I was a teenager.

"I was introduced to the wonders of the Olympics through Denise Lewis, and then other British athletes too.

"About two years ago I started training as a full-time athlete.

"This year on the World Cup circuit I had some great performances, so I was learning lessons the whole way through."

Chef du mission Mike Hay hailed Britain's largest winter Olympics haul since the inaugural 1924 games, aiming for more medals and funding for the next games in PyeongChang.

Targeting increased funding for four years time, Hay said Team GB's four- medal performance deserves respect.

"This return is definitely something we can be proud of," he said.

"And we will certainly look towards increased funding for the future.

"I wouldn't be surprised if we surpass four medals at the next games.

"Across the board our performance has changed, so there's a great opportunity and a great profile that's hopefully been set across Great Britain from the medals we've won here.

"I'm pretty optimistic we can grow again, so hopefully the funding will rise again for the future."

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