BRITISH Skeleton head of technical development Andi Schmid has hailed Shelley Rudman’s impact on the sport in this country.
The 2006 Winter Olympic silver medallist is Great Britain’s most successful female skeleton athlete of all time and jets off to Sochi 2014 looking to add yet another major title to her already-glittering trophy cabinet.
Austrian Schmid, also British Skeleton’s head ice coach, won World Championship gold himself in 1993 and is backing the current world champion to shine at her third winter Games.
“Where to start with Shelley? I have to say that she’s an extraordinary slider,” said Schmid.
“She came in to the sport, struggled a bit at the beginning of her career but just pushed it to the next level with a medal in Turin.
“That helped the programme to move on.
“Then she planned the whole of her career around winning the World Cup (series) and winning the World Championships. She’s won nearly everything, which is extraordinary for an athlete in our sport.
“The only thing she’s missing is this gold medal but she should not put so much pressure on herself. She has already proved what she can do and I think that she needs to relax going in to this race and see what happens.
“She already has all the support of the team and the right equipment in place. She proved that she can peak at special events. Looking at the World Championships last year, she nailed it down and destroyed the whole field.
“She’s well prepared to go the Olympics and I wish her all the best.”
Schmid believes the British team are every bit as strong as the one that competed at 2010 in Vancouver, where the Pewsey slider finished sixth.
He added: “This year, with Shelley and Lizzy (Yarnold) and also with Dominic (Parsons), we have medallists, and with Kristan (Bromley), we have two top-six finishes.
“So I’m quite positive that we have a very strong team - at least as strong as we had four years ago.
“Of course, we have more medals in the pocket from the same year with Lizzy and Shelley. That is amazing but the Olympics is a different race.”
FOR MORE SPORTS NEWS, REPORTS & PICTURES SEE THURSDAY'S GAZETTE & HERALD AND FOLLOW US ON TWITTER @gazsport