Lizzy Yarnold MBE is a British skeleton racer who joined the national squad in 2010. She won the 2013–14 Skeleton World Cup (only once finishing off the podium the whole season), followed by a gold in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Lizzy Yarnold was initially a heptathlete. She was inspired to take up the sport after watching Denise Lewis at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
In 2008, Lizzy Yarnold took part in UK Sport’s Girls4Gold talent search scheme. Initially she thought she would be suitable for a sport involving horses but UK Sport identified skeleton as a good option. She began competing in 2010; winning her first official race in the Europa Cup at Igls in November. The next day she had her second win. In subsequent seasons Lizzy Yarnold has honed her skeleton-racing skills, learned courses, and achieved the athletic performance required to compete at World Cup level. She finished the 2011/12 season in 9th position and became junior World Champion and a bronze medallist in the senior World Championships in 2012.
Her sled is named Mervyn after a former work colleague of hers, Mervyn Sugden.
From the first world cup practice run of the Olympic season it was apparent that Yarnold had found a new level of competitiveness, consistently topping timing sheets. She won the opening race in Calgary in controversial circumstances when the US athlete Noelle Pikus-Pace was disqualified for a technical infringement. This set the scene for a season-long duel with Pikus-Pace. Lizzy eventually secured the World Cup Championship at the last race of the season in Königssee and the Olympic gold medal at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, ahead of Pikus-Pace by 0.97 seconds. The Olympic performance was remarkable as she had the fastest run of each of the four runs and set new track records on her first and third run. Lizzy’s gold was the tenth gold medal ever achieved by British athletes in 90 years of Winter Olympics competition. It also ensured that Great Britain had won a medal in the Women’s Skeleton in every Winter Olympics since the event was introduced.
Yarnold was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2014 Birthday Honours for services to skeleton racing.
Following her success in the Olympics and World Cup, Yarnold completed a career grand slam in 2014/15 by becoming European Champion in February 2015 and World Champion the following month. She broke the track record at Winterberg twice in the course of her World Championship victory. She finished as runner-up to Janine Flock in that season’s World Cup standings, winning five World Cup races and being defeated by a narrow margin of 20 points after missing the Calgary round of the series for health reasons.
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