A WELL-EARNED holiday will come first, but Shelley Rudman is convinced she has what it takes to target a fourth Winter Olympic Games appearance in 2018 if she chooses.
The Pewsey slider will leave Sochi this weekend with a feeling of pride, even though Russia didn’t provide her with the glittering finale to a four-year cycle of hard work that she would have wished for.
Rudman’s dreams of adding a second Olympic medal to the unforgettable silver she won in Turin eight years ago came up against a formidable opponent in a highly technical track at the Sanki Sliding Centre.
As the 32-year-old battled gamely to get to grips with the ice – finally feeling more at home with it during the latter stages of her four runs – compatriot Lizzy Yarnold blitzed the rest of the field to clinch Britain’s second successive gold medal in the women’s event.
Bath-based Yarnold followed landlord Amy Williams, who triumphed in Vancouver four years ago, as the new darling of British ice sport, but Rudman hinted she may not be prepared to leave the stage entirely to the sport’s younger generation just yet.
Few can match the mum-of-one’s experience on the skeleton circuit. The fact that last year she won the world championship title for the first time in her career, as well as finishing third behind Yarnold is this year’s World Cup series, is an indication that Rudman still has plenty in the tank.
Hinting that she feels she still has further ambitions to achieve in the sport, she told the Gazette & Herald: “I will take a few weeks off, have a nice holiday and then look at the next four-year cycle and make a decision.
“I definitely have another Olympic cycle in me if I choose to target 2018 (the Games will take place in Pyeongchang, South Korea).’
“I look at my career and think ‘yeah, it’s great’ and what we are going to do now is try and go on a family holiday, relax a little bit and set some new goals out for possibly Pyeongchang.’’
Rudman, who was sixth in Vancouver four years ago, had struggled to get to grips with that track as Williams clinched gold, but she felt progress had been made on Russian ice this time.
“The (Sochi) result definitely wasn’t one of my best, but going into the Olympics I had done everything possible to try and connect with the track,’’ she added.
“I knew that what would be, would be and whatever the result, I wanted to be proud of what I had achieved and by also getting to my third Olympics which was a huge accomplishment for me in itself.’’
“On the final day, I started to connect with sections of the track and was able to relax on the sled, which I hadn’t been able to do before.
“So the feeling was definitely coming. But sometimes it can take me three years to sync with certain tracks, and others I can connect with straight away, It’s so individual to each athlete.’’
Yarnold, embraced by Rudman after her gold medal-clinching fourth run, paid tribute to her compatriot, who helped to launch the Girls4Gold scheme that pushed the new 25-year-old Olympic champion into skeleton in the first place six years ago.
“At the end Shelley said ‘go and see your family’ and she has been incredible,” said Yarnold. “There are loads of people back in the UK have supported me, like my family.’’
Rudman added of Yarnold’s win: “It was great to see, but also really cool that Great Britain kept the tradition up of winning a medal in the skeleton at every Olympics.’’
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