Britain’s best team yet? The contenders most likely to strike gold in the snow
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Saturday 13 February 2010
Men's curling: David Murdoch
Over the previous 20 Winter Games Britain have amassed the grand total of eight gold medals. Their first, in 1924, was in curling; their last, in 2002, was in curling; and their next, in 15 days' time.
David Murdoch's team are the reigning world champions, in the guise of Scotland, and now as Britain have a golden chance to add the Olympic title. Their main rivals to top the podium are the hosts, currently ranked No 1 in the world. After ice hockey, curling is Canada's sporting obsession, but Murdoch's men are more than capable of silencing the home crowd, given that they have beaten the Canadians the last three times they have faced off on the ice. The women's team, skipped by 19-year-old Eve Muirhead, a fledgling star of the sport, are among the contenders jostling behind Canada, the overwhelming favourites.
Ice skating: John & Sinead Kerr
The Scottish brother and sister – who number Christopher Dean among their former coaches – have been dancing together for a decade now. They won bronze at the European Championships last year and have an outside chance of doing likewise in Vancouver.
Women's bobsleigh: Nicola Minichiello and Gillian Cooke
Another world champion team, but this one enters the Games on less sure footing than the curlers. Since becoming the first British women to claim a world title last year, Minichiello has been beset with problems with her vision, at one stage there were fears she could lose the sight in her left eye. In December she underwent laser surgery and since returning to action the form of last year has proved elusive. But, with their second-hand sled and constant quest for funds, Minichiello and Cooke, a former international long jumper, are well practised in dealing with adversity. Gold may prove beyond them, but a medal certainly is not.
Men's speed skating: Jon Eley
A former European champion and World Championships bronze medallist, Eley has the CV to justify his belief that he can cause the Union flag to be raised in his honour come the end of the 500m. He was disappointed to finish fifth in Turin and is desperate to make amends.
Women's snowboarding: Zoe Gillings
The 24-year-old from the Isle of Man has overcome serious injury problems of her own. Five years ago she shattered her foot so badly she was advised to give up the sport. She ignored the medics, competed in Turin four years ago – reaching the quarter-finals – and is now ranked fifth in the world.
Women's skeleton: Shelley Rudman
Britain's flagbearer at last night's opening ceremony is another who will probably have to upset the Canadians to take gold. Mellisa Hollingsworth has dominated the World Cup this season and is a strong favourite, but Rudman is nothing if not confident. Her form this season has been good, she finished second to Hollingsworth, and going one better than her surprise silver four years ago is far from out of reach. Team-mate Amy Williams – or "Curly Wurly" as she's known – could provide the surprise British medal of the Games. She finished second in a World Cup event on the notoriously difficult Whistler run last year.
Men's skeleton: Kristan Bromley
If Rudman doesn't do it then there may still be a medal to place on the mantlepiece via her partner Bromley. Dr Ice, a former world champion, is in prime form. Robin Scott-Elliot
GB's gold medallists
Chamonix 1924 – Men's Curling, Garmisch-Partenkirchen 1936 – Men's Ice Hockey, Oslo 1952 – Women's Figure Skating (Jeanette Altwegg), Innsbruck 1964 – Men's Bobsleigh, Innsbruck 1976 – Men's Figure Skating (John Curry), Lake Placid 1980 – Men's Figure Skating (Robin Cousins), Sarajevo 1984 – Ice Dance (Torvill and Dean), Salt Lake City 2002 – Women's Curling
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