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Luge and Skeleton Wednesday, 20 February, 2002, 23:49 GMT
Irish lord of the ice
Clifton Wrottesley celebrates
Three cheers for the peer: Wrottesley celebrates
By BBC Sport Online's Alex Gubbay in Salt Lake City

Clifton Wrottesley is a peer of the realm, but from Galway on the Irish west coast.

His Lordship is now also the fourth best skeleton slider in the world.

Wrottesley roared down the Utah Olympic Park track on his first run, and was third at the halfway stage.

"That first run was something else," he admitted afterwards.

"The track was getting slower as the snow kept falling, so I just decided to go for it."

Go for it he certainly did, and though Gregor Staehli eventually pipped him for the bronze, the Irish nobleman took fourth place with very good grace.

The sliding peer
Full name: Clifton Hugh Lancelot de Verdin Wrottesley
Born: 10/08/68 in Galway, lives in London.
Education: Eton, Edinburgh, Sandhurst
Occupation: Fund manager and hereditary peer
Other pursuits: Polo, sky diving

"No way is it the worst position to end up. For me, this is the best feeling in the world," he said.

"The guys on the podium are the rightful winners.

"I never expected anything like this, so there is no sense of defeat whatsoever.

"Training has gone well all week, and I had hoped for a top ten finish. So this is a massive bonus."

Clifton Hugh Lancelot de Verdin Wrottesley's accent is just as you would expect from someone with that name.

But aristocratic privilege was not the only thing he inherited from his father.

The fifth Baron Wrottesley was a winter sports enthusiast, but died when his son was just two.

As a result, the young Clifton made a pilgrimage to St Moritz to learn more about his dad.

"I wanted to find out what made him tick, and that was where I took up skeleton.

"It started as a curiosity, and grew into a close interest, before becoming a passion, and eventual obsession.

Clifton Wrottesley sported a big shamrock on his skeleton suit
Spot the shamrock: Wrottesley in Escada skeleton suit

"So despite never really knowing him, my father has still been a guiding light."

Wrottesley did slide for the British team initially, but switched allegiance two years ago when he realised he would never be ranked high enough to qualify for major competitions.

And he was quick to pay tribute to the people around him for getting him up to fourth at these Salt Lake Games.

"Even in an individual sport like this, there's a huge team effort to get here.

"I have to thank my sled technician, ice coach, physiotherapist, as well as my strength and conditioning coach. They make all the difference.

"I tried to keep calm, and any thoughts of a medal firmly out of my mind.

"I had never considered it beforehand - if I had stopped to think about it, it would have freaked me out."

Wrottesley hopes his performance will boost interest in Ireland, not just in skeleton, or winter disciplines, but in sport as a whole.

But before that, there is the matter of celebrating a fantastic fourth place, and he plans to do so in a way befitting his standing and background.

"Some Guinness, along with a couple of glasses of champagne should do the trick nicely!"

BBC Sport Online's Alex Gubbay

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See also:

20 Feb 02 | Luge and Skeleton
Emotional gold for Shea
20 Feb 02 | Luge and Skeleton
Tearful triumph cheers America
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