All eyes on Italy for British Skeleton star

Skeleton found Amelia Coltman by chance. 

She had thrown her name into the hat for a UK Sport talent identification programme, ‘Discover your Gold’, which was designed to uncover the next generation of British Olympic-level athletes.

Coltman had been working on the programme on a voluntary basis whilst at University, using it to spice up her CV and gain first-name experience of elite level sport –  a field she hoped to pursue post-study, but originally had no intention of partaking herself.

It wasn’t long however, before she  realised she wasn’t happy just helping out. 

Trialling out

As someone from an athletic background, a keen tennis player when she was younger, the lure of competition was irresistible, so she applied to trial for power sports, igniting a journey that would run and run.

From a pool of 4000 applicants, 1500 – herself included – were selected by UK Sport to undertake a variety of physical tests in Scotland. 

She travelled up and was put through various drills, including 30 metre spirits, Watt Bike sprints and countermovement jumps. 

Clearly she impressed. That very same day Skeleton called, informing her that they saw her as suited to the sport. Having applied on a whim, it was quite a shock.

“It was such a whirlwind” she said, “I didn’t even really know what skeleton was, because both my parents are professional cyclists I thought the obvious one for me to get selected into was that, so it was quite a surprise when Skeleton were on the end of the phone.”

The next stage was being trialled on the push-track, followed by a day with the Royal Marines going through various tests designed to put prospective athletes out of their comfort zone. 

As Coltman explains, “Skeleton is a sport where you’re massively outside what feels comfortable when you start” so they were gauging who was capable of being coached on the ice.

The numbers were gradually whittled down, through a brutal “X factor” style elimination process designed to leave only potentially elite talents.

Finally, the remaining competitors were taken out to the ice for “two weeks of getting bruised, hitting walls and just being completely out of control.” The adrenaline was addictive.

“After the first run I got to the bottom and was like oh my god I’ve actually got all my limbs intact. I wanted to go again straight away.” 

Having finally passed through the seemingly endless trials and tribulations mostly unscathed and crucially, still keen, Coltman was invited onto the GB programme and relocated to Bath.

Maiden Season

Her debut Season was a tale of defying expectations. 

Having no experience of competing at an international level or even any frame of reference for what the standard might be like, she “went into the season maybe hoping to finish top 10 or top 8 on the circuit.” The possibility of winning the overall title hadn’t even registered.

But after finishing second in her maiden race, the scale of her ambitions altered. “Suddenly I just thought oh, this is how I compare to the rest of the world.” 

Coltman’s momentum grew throughout the season, soon experiencing a first gold and the pride of the national anthem to accompany it. 

She went on to win two gold, two bronze and a silver and incredibly became the first ever Brit to take the Europa Cup at the first attempt, something not even Lizzy Yarnold achieved.

“If you’d have told me I’d have won it at the start I’d have never believed you.”

Looking forward

The following season, Coltman’s sharp uphill trajectory was curtailed by a recurrent toe injury and the concurrent mental strain of being in and out of surgery.

When the initial procedure, shaving off an unwanted piece of extra bone, didn’t solve the issue as expected, two more operations were required, thus ending any hope of making the World Championships. 

She admitted “I wasn’t mentally in the right place because of all that.”

The lockdown also interrupted her progress, with a month spent “in a makeshift gym in my uncle’s garage” before the Bath facilities reopened for elite athletes.

She’s back on track now though. Rehab has been “hardcore” but Coltman enjoys pushing herself to the limits. 

“Obviously there are some days when you’d just like to stay in bed but I really do like the process of being in the gym and testing myself.”

As for the future, her eyes are firmly fixed on Italy. “2026 is my target at the moment, that’s what we’re all working towards.” 

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