Winter Olympics 2014: After star billing in Sochi, next stop The Archers for Lizzy Yarnold


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The Independent Online

Lizzy Yarnold thought of everything because she knew what was coming.

In her kitbag at the finish of the skeleton was a Valentine’s Day card for her boyfriend – delivered to him moments after winning gold – and she had even learnt a phrase in  Russian.

“I was bold enough to learn a Russian term, which is ‘I’m a champion’,” she said. That was the plan and it was perfectly executed over the course of two days at the Sanki Sliding Centre.

On Friday morning – with her event not starting until 7.40pm – she took a gondola, having breakfast en route, to the top of the mountain with two team-mates to watch skiing. Three hours before her race she arrived at the track. From there it went like clockwork.

“After the third run I knew I had a little bit of a lead,” she said. “So I went into the fourth run, it was a little bit messy  but I just let the sled run as much as I could and I just loved it.

“I knew I had a lead on Noelle [Pikus-Pace] but when you start the run it is just like any training run, my processes are exactly the same, my coach is there like normal, and I just knew I should enjoy it and embrace the whole occasion.”

She was soon embracing her parents, with mother Judith in tears, and then her boyfriend, James Roche, who designed her sled – as he had Amy Williams’s four years ago.

“There’s Lizzy Yarnold the professional and there’s Lizzy Yarnold the farmer’s daughter who likes to come home to the farm, sit in front of the fire,  do her knitting and listen to The Archers,” said Judith Yarnold.

“The whole cast of The Archers sent her messages. Apparently Bradley Wiggins is appearing on The Archers and Lizzy is quite possibly going to be on as well.

“I’m not sure how they get a skeleton personality into Ambridge, but they’ll do it somehow.”