Lizzy Yarnold was yet to seal her Olympic gold medal in the mountains above Rosa Khutor on Friday night and British Skeleton chiefs were already turning their focus towards extending their Winter Games medal streak in Pyeongchang in 2018.
Yarnold’s 0.97-second victory over nearest rival Noelle Pikus-Pace provided Great Britain with its fourth consecutive Olympic women’s skeleton medal and maintained its record of winning a medal in each of the six Games of which the sport has been a part.
The relentless results yielded by the programme, which was founded in 2000 shortly after skeleton was restored to the Olympic programme after a 54-year absence, has made it one of the most successful in British sport.
And for its inaugural performance director Simon Timson, now director of sport at UK Sport, Yarnold’s victory is testament to the programme’s vision in identifying and training young talent and plotting their steep trajectory into world-class competition.
Timson, who was the sport’s performance director from 2000 to 2006, said: “It’s the sport’s responsibility to decide on its objectives and set targets for Pyeongchang, but I know we’ve all collectively sat round a table and questioned why we’re so successful on the women’s side and where the step up is going to come with the men.
“On Monday night after the first two (training) runs we were literally going through the list of the boys who are in the system and saying, ‘where’s the Pyeongchang medal winner?’
“Whether it is achievable for British Skeleton to put a man on the podium in Pyeongchang alongside the women or whether it’s an eight-year project is something only the sport can decide, but it’s just the evolution of the system.
“One of the key things for this cycle is to identify more talent and continue to do the basics better than anyone else, and continue to ruthlessly and relentlessly stick to their formula. The bottom line is it works.”
Meanwhile, British halfpipe skier Rowan Cheshire was kept in hospital overnight under observation after she suffered a concussion in a training accident at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park in Sochi yesterday.
Cheshire, 18, fell heavily on her face and, after remaining unconscious for several minutes, she was taken on a stretcher to a nearby medical tent.
The BOA said Cheshire will continue to be monitored, with the Alsager-based athlete due to compete in the Olympic ski halfpipe event on Thursday.
Cheshire is considered a medal prospect after winning her first World Cup title in Calgary last month.