Rudman revels in dream-like medal moment

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The Independent Online

In her home village of Pewsey, Wiltshire, there were extravagant suggestions from the villagers who had banded together to raise funds for her that the local pub, the Moonrakers Inn, should be renamed the Silver Moonrakers Inn...

Rudman said she was "buzzing away", after managing to get just a couple of hours' sleep, at earning the medal that fulfilled Britain's unofficial target at these Winter Olympics rather earlier than the forecasts.

"I am so happy," she added. "I am so happy for everybody else as well because I see it as a joint thing. It's not just me performing, it's everybody else that worked for me as well. Everybody has been fantastic. It still doesn't feel as though it's happening. It still feels really dream-like. At the moment I'm just going with the flow."

She thought the full realisation would sink in only during the medals ceremony, which was timed to take place last night at the same time as her boyfriend, Kristan Bromley, was contesting the men's skeleton event, along with fellow Briton Adam Pengilly.

In the wake of her success, Rudman admitted that there had been times when she wondered about moving to Europe or the United States in order to have better access to training facilities. "People there can get to tracks which are 20 minutes away, while in England we don't have any," she said. "But the flip side is that we have become very good at adapting, and that can help when you come to competitions like this. I think this has shown that British competitors can overcome those disadvantages."

Simon Timson, Britain's performance director for the skeleton, believes there are many other athletes who can be poached successfully from other sports as Rudman was from athletics, where she was a 400m hurdler who finished seventh in the English Schools Championships.

As Timson looks ahead to the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, he wants to target proven athletes between 14 and 22 years old to set them on the same route as Rudman.

"At the moment we have 15 athletes on the performance pathway," he said. "We have taken four per year over the past four years, but we want to recruit 16 this year and select the best eight for a six-week ice camp in December."

Timson added that the establishment of a £300,000 push-start practice run at Bath University, where Rudman first tried the sport while on a teaching course, had been hugely important to the British team. Previously the only domestic opportunity for practice took place on a decrepit run at the back of Thorpe Park, Surrey, which was where the four-man bobsleigh team that won bronze in the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics did all their work.

"It has made a major difference," Timson said. "It provides a focal point for the sport in Britain and gives us a means to introduce athletes to the events."