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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 February 2006, 11:15 GMT
Rudman's slide rules
By Anna Thompson
BBC Sport at the Winter Olympics

Shelley Rudman
Rudman came second in the women's World Cup and European Championship race last month

Shelley Rudman has been putting all her time, money and effort into competing in the women's skeleton at the Winter Olympics, so she gets rather upset when the uninitiated call it a tea tray.

The 24-year-old from Wiltshire, who has had to fund herself with the help of her support group, points out it is a highly specialised piece of equipment.

She told BBC Sport: "My sled cost 3,000 and weighs 32lbs and is specially engineered and I don't think some people realise that."

This is only Rudman's third year on the top-level circuit and she is currently ranked fifth in the World Cup standings.

She would love to emulate her predecessor Alex Coomber and come away with an Olympic medal but knows it will be tough in her event on Thursday.

Coomber secured Britain's first medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics when she finished third in Salt Lake City.

Rudman will have to overcome a strong challenge from World Cup leader Mellisa Hollingsworth-Richards of Canada and Switzerland's Maya Pedersen.

But in the event four years ago, there was only Coomber from the pre-race favourites who managed to claim a coveted medal.

Rudman will have two attempts down the Cesana Pariol track in her quest for Olympic glory, and she is determined not to put too much pressure on herself.

Shelley Rudman
Rudman sets off on her highly specialised sled

"I just want to go away with a good experience from the Games and not a disappointing one," she said.

"My coach and I have agreed a top 10 would be a good result, a top eight would be a lot better and anything else would be extra special.

"I'm going to go into the race to be as competitive as possible. I'm not going to take a step back and think I'm just entering for the fun of it; I'm going to go in there to achieve the best result I possibly can."


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