Double Olympic Champion Lizzy Yarnold Refuses To Be Drawn On Skeleton Future
Double Olympic skeleton champion Lizzy Yarnold refused to be drawn on her future in the sport, insisting she would take her time to decide her next move.
Yarnold made history under the frozen skies of PyeongChang on Saturday, achieving her long-term target of becoming the first Brit to successfully defend a Winter Olympic title.
That added to an already glittering CV, which included World, European titles in 2015 – followed by an elective season-long sabbatical to recharge and refresh - and her first Olympic gold from four years ago.
When Beijing 2022 comes around, Yarnold will be 33 - only 1924 figure skating bronze medallist Ethel Muckelt and John Crammond, winner of skeleton bronze four years later, have won individual Olympic medals at an older age.
And with every major title won – and back-to-back Olympic titles secured despite a challenging last few seasons which included loss of form and debilitating dizzy spells - the issue of retirement is an inevitable question facing Yarnold.
“I think I’ll take a break. I need to get over my chest infection first. I’ll take a good break and get back to you,” she said when asked about whether that could have been her last competitive race.
“I feel very motivated today, as I did four years ago and I feel that I can jump back on the sled.
“But I’d recommend any athlete to take a break. It’s a four-year cycle and, even though it’s tempting and you’re desperate to carry on, it’s a long time to be at your best.
“As athletes we don’t allow ourselves to be ill or injured. Being human you need to have ups and downs. Having time off now is really important.
“I'm looking forward to being home, remember that I’m a terrible cook and asking (husband) James to cook the dinner.
“Normality is a strange thing when you've been away for four or five months. When I get back and put away my wash bag, that’s a big occasion."
Speaking the morning after her success, Yarnold revealed she had only managed three hours sleep – due in part to the chest infection she had battled all week and also due to the excitement of her achievements the previous night.
She occupied her time instead with a spot of knitting and an Australian murder mystery show on Netflix before then spending the day preparing to share the medal rostrum with teammate and close pal Laura Deas who picked up bronze.
And while the long-term future may not yet be mapped out for Yarnold, the 29-year-old does intend to put school visits and continuing to inspire the next generation of sporting stars high up the list.
“I guess as each minute passes it becomes more of a reality but it’s still an unbelievable series of events, everything coming together to win gold,” she added.
“After Sochi, my most important thing was visiting schools. There were 300 or 400 schools that visited in six months after. That’s certainly top of my list.
“I certainly wouldn’t pursue celebrity status. My gold medal is like Frodo’s ring. I love seeing the children’s faces light up. If I can be role model to them that’s the most important thing.”
PLEASE LEAVE IN FINAL PAR: Can Team GB add to their four medals in PyeongChang? Don’t miss a moment of the Olympic Winter Games at Eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport app.