SHELLEY Rudman says she will head into her third Winter Olympic Games next month unburdened by any excess pressure.
Pewsey slider Rudman, a silver medallist on her debut in Turin in 2006 and sixth in Vancouver four years ago, was yesterday confirmed as one of Great Britain’s two representatives for the women’s skeleton in Sochi, Russia, which get under way on February 7.
The 32-year-old reigning world champion will target her second Olympic medal alongside current World Cup series leader Lizzy Yarnold as Britain aims to continue its record of winning a medal at every Olympic event since the women’s discipline became a full part of the Games programme in 2002.
Mum-of-one Rudman, who finished third overall in this season's World Cup series after clinching her second podium finish with third in Konigssee, Germany, today, went into the Games in Vancouver in 2010 as one of Britain’s tips for gold – the event eventually being won by Bath-based compatriot Amy Williams.
But the Wiltshire athlete reckons the expectation this time bears greater similarities to her stunning medal-winning Olympic debut in Italy eight years ago.
An early whiplash injury and illness have restricted her to one podium finish, while Yarnold has recorded seven consecutive podium finishes in this year’s World Cup series.
“It’s quite funny because I’m going into it as a bit of an underdog, which is really the way I would have wanted it,’’ she told the Gazette & Herald yesterday, while in Germany preparing for her final World Cup race of the season.
“I’m feeling really quite relaxed about it and I don’t have that pressure on me that I felt in Vancouver.
“I didn’t have all the excitement four years ago, but I do this time. I’m very proud and honoured to have made the Olympic team again.
“(I) take great pride in that achievement (three Games) alone. When I started out in skeleton I would never have thought that was possible.’’
“I knew I was in a fairly decent position, but to have your place confirmed is great and I just want to concentrate on doing the best I can now, without any particular target.’’
“Going into Sochi I hope I will be able to merge all my experiences from the last two (Olympics) to give myself the best possible chance of success.’’
After winning the world title for the first time last February, Rudman has focussed on building up her form and fitness so that she is in the best shape possible when the four-run event begins on February 13.
Rudman, whose fiance Kristan Bromley will contest the men’s event – his fourth Olympics – added: “The illness (chest infection over Christmas) is all gone and, while the neck injury is still a little bit there, it’s all in good shape."
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