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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 February 2006, 18:16 GMT
GB's Rudman takes skeleton silver
Shelley Rudman
British skeleton star Rudman set the fastest time in practice
Slider Shelley Rudman raced to a silver medal - Britain's first at the 2006 Winter Olympics - in the women's Olympic skeleton on Thursday.

Rudman was lying in fourth place after the first run, but a sensational second slide put her on the podium in Cesana.

She recorded an overall time of two minutes 1.06 seconds - 1.23 seconds behind Swiss champion Maya Pedersen.

"I just can't believe it. It feels really surreal," the 24-year-old from Wiltshire told BBC Sport.

"I'm really gobsmacked. I really wanted to get a bronze, so I'm certainly not complaining about a silver medal."

Rudman said her superb second run came after advice from her coach Michael Grunberger and her boyfriend and fellow skeleton slider Kristan Bromley.

"I was just perfect on the second run," she added.

"I normally go better on the second run, so I wasn't worried by being in fourth place after the first.

Everyone has worked their socks off and it's such a fantastic result
Rudman's coach Simon Timson

"I hope this result has put skeleton on the map and it will make a lot more people aware of skeleton and able to fund it."

Rudman will be presented with her silver medal in Turin on Friday, at the same time as Bromley goes in the men's event.

"My heart is going to be split in two up there on the medals podium and also keeping an eye on the results, but I will try to watch the men's race," she said.

Britain's skeleton performance director Simon Timson told BBC Sport that Rudman had put in a nerveless performance.

SHELLEY RUDMAN FACTFILE
Born: 23 March 1981
2003: 10th in World Junior Championships
2004: Wins Europa Cup Igls, Austria
2005: Gold in World University Games
2006: Silver in Turin Winter Olympics

"She was as cool as a cucumber," he said.

"We knew that fourth was a good spot for her and if she got corner 17 right, then she'd do well.

"Everyone has worked their socks off and it's just such a fantastic result."

British Olympic chief Simon Clegg said Rudman's silver was a huge boost to the team.

"It's a great result for her, especially considering she's only been sliding for a couple of years," he said. "She went quickest in the final training run so we knew she would be competing in the medal zone.

"Before the Games we said one medal would be a success. We've got that in the first week and we're now expecting more great results in the second week."

Alex Coomber
Alex Coomber's bronze provided the inspiration for Rudman

Rudman's achievement was all the more remarkable considering there is no proper skeleton track in Britain - just a push-start track at Bath University.

Despite her rapid rise in the sport, Rudman has also had to fund herself in her pursuit of a medal.

She has enjoyed the enthusiastic support of the people of her home town of Pewsey, who raised 4,000 for her with a canoe marathon.

Rudman's medal followed fellow Wiltshire woman Alex Coomber's bronze in the same competition in Salt Lake City four years ago.

But, while Coomber had been widely expected to win a medal, Rudman was considered an outside chance at best, having never previously reached the podium in her World Cup career.

Rudman, in her first full season in the sport, had never even tried the skeleton sled until being inspired by Coomber's performance.

She went into the competition insisting she would consider a top 10 position a success and that anything beyond eighth would be "extra special".




WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: Britain's Shelley Rudman



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SEE ALSO
Rudman's slide rules
15 Feb 06 |  Winter Sports
GB's Rudman sets pace in training
15 Feb 06 |  Winter Sports


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