PyeongChang 2018: Williams tips skeleton star Yarnold for historic double gold

Vancouver Winter Olympics gold medallist Amy Williams has tipped Lizzy Yarnold to become the first British athlete to retain an Olympic title by winning skeleton gold in PyeongChang this month.

The 35-year-old 2010 champion and MBE holder, now retired from skeleton, believes Yarnold has the ability and big race mentality to recapture her Olympic title four years on from her success at the Sochi Games.

Despite a mixed season that has seen Yarnold dip to ninth in the rankings below compatriot Laura Deas in seventh, the Kent born slider finished fourth overall at the final skeleton World Cup of the season in Konigssee, Germany, in January.

Williams, who was the first British individual gold medallist at a Winter Olympics for 30 years, told MM: “Both Lizzy Yarnold and Laura Deas have got the skills to win a medal.

“Lizzy has got that experience of winning, she always pulls it out the bag when it comes to major championships. I think she likes that pressure and I think she thrives off it.

“Anything can happen on the day. We know that Lizzy has got the skills to be able to win gold and she clearly wants to be able to get another medal.”

The 2015 world and European skeleton champion took a year out from the sport in 2015/16 and has at times struggled to return to her similar levels of form from three years ago.

Cambridge-born Williams, who won Britain’s only medal at the Vancouver Games, believes Yarnold can utilise her underdog tag to her advantage.

“In the build-up to Vancouver, I was ranked fifth in the world and I still went to those games wanting to win a medal knowing that I could.

“You never really know what is going to happen when it comes to the Olympics and who keeps a cool head and keeps it together.

“Every athlete puts pressure on themselves. There is no greater pressure than what you put on yourself. Everyone is very different about the way you think about that process.”

The former skeleton athlete, Gadget Show host and Ski Sunday presenter will be commentating at the Games for BBC Sport alongside host Clare Balding and four-times Olympic gold medal rowing champion Matthew Pinsent.

Despite her new-found media role, Williams insists nothing will ever compare to the thrill of competing at the Winter Olympics.

“It is always a little bit weird going back to the Olympics because you still feel kind of like you are still an athlete,” said the 2009 world championship runner-up.

“You still feel like you can go and get a sled and go and slide. But I have very much accepted that that was a very different chapter of my life and I am now on the other side.

“It is still lovely to be physically be at an Olympics, with an incredible emotional feeling to be there knowing that everyone is fighting to get medals.”

The skeleton begins on February 15 and will feature British women Yarnold and Deas and men Dom Parsons and Jerry Rice.

Image courtesy of Team GB via YouTube, with thanks.

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