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Last Updated: Friday, 17 February 2006, 01:39 GMT
How Rudman slid to silver

By Anna Thompson
BBC Sport at the Winter Olympics

Shelley Rudman celebrates her silver medal in Turin
Rudman celebrates on the podium after clinching her silver medal
It is not difficult to put Olympic silver medallist Shelley Rudman's achievement into perspective.

The 24-year-old classroom manager missed out on elite funding and had to rely on supporters in her home town of Pewsey in Wiltshire to help bridge the gap and ultimately allow her to compete in Turin.

Then consider that Britain does not have a full bobsleigh track, and it is Rudman's first full season on the top-level curcuit, and you begin to realise how remarkable her skeleton medal was.

She had not even begun her career when she watched Britain's Alex Coomber win a bronze medal in the same event at Salt Lake City four years ago.

But that performance aroused curiosity in the former athlete, who had to give up hurdling because of a back injury.

In the autumn of 2002, Rudman had her first ride on a sled on the push-start track at Bath University and took to it immediately.

She wanted to pursue it further but missed out on funding, so spent 400 of her own money to attend a training camp in Lillehammer, Norway.

Within 10 months she was competing on the European circuit and winning her first novice race in Austria, and this season joined the World Cup circuit for the first time.

She has been competing with a hamstring injury since January, and her highest World Cup placing was fourth, but she underlined her potential with a second-place finish at the recent European Championships.

It was beyond my wildest dreams and so surreal
Shelley Rudman
Rudman might not have made it to the start line in Turin, having twice flipped her 3000 sled and injured herself on the same Olympic track.

But she posted the fastest time in final training and come race day at the Cesana track in northern Italy, was lying fourth after her first run.

Some words of advice from coach Michael Grunberger, and boyfriend and fellow slider Kristan Bromley, got her focused ahead of her second run, and what a run it was.

With her parents Jack and Josie cheeering her on and the sliders racing in reverse order, Rudman leapt into a substantial lead by skeleton standards with just three competitors left.

"I am calm under pressure and my second run is normally the best," she told the BBC Sport website. "Everything just clicked into place here."

She knew she was guarenteed a medal when world number one Mellisa Hollingsworth-Richards came in 0.35 seconds adrift of her own time, and it got even better when Germany's Diana Sartor made crucial errors to fall behind both of them.

Shelley Rudman practises at the push-start track at Bath University
Rudman practises at Bath University
"I was on the podium and very happy with my bronze, and never thought I would be getting a silver until Mellisa ran up and hugged me, and then I realised what had happened.

"It was beyond my wildest dreams and so surreal."

A clearly ectastic Rudman jumped for joy alongside Switzerland's gold medallist Maya Pedersen, while her supporters back at the packed Moonrakers Inn were raising a glass in her honour.

"Everyone's support has been so amazing," she said. "I would like to thank all those who have had faith in me over the years."

Rudman has a dilemma on Friday. At the same time as she is to receive her medal in Turin, her boyfriend Bromley bids to win Britain's second medal of the Games in Cesana.

"I am trying to catch Kristan's first run before dashing off to Turin," she explained. "I really want to be there for him but logistically it's a nightmare."

With rounds of television, radio and newspaper interviews to complete, Britain's newest sports star does not know when she will be able to celebrate her success.

She is rooming with skier Chemmy Alcott in the athletes' village in Sestriere. "Chemmy is great and performed really well in the downhill, so I think we must be in a lucky room."

Rudman hopes her medal will put skeleton on the map, and maybe even Pewsey too.

But one thing is guaranteed. She will not need the regulars at the Moonrakers to provide her funding next season.



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SEE ALSO
GB's Rudman takes skeleton silver
16 Feb 06 |  Winter Sports
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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