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Friday, 22 February, 2002, 07:31 GMT

Coomber cherishes medal moment

Olympic bronze medallist Alex Coomber talks to BBC Sport Online's Anna Thompson

Now that it is all over, British skeleton star Alex Coomber can admit how she feared failure.

The relieved three-time World Cup champion was worried she would perform terribly in the Olympic skeleton.

But, in snowy conditions which did not favour her, Coomber showed tremendous composure to become only Britain's 18th Winter Olympic medallist.

She told BBC Sport Online: "I'd have been absolutely gutted if I'd have finished fourth.

"I was in a medal position after the first run and I did not want to blow it in the second.

"There was a massive mixture of emotions.

"I knew my family had made the effort to come here and there were lots of people supporting me at home as well.

"I didn't want to let them down."

Only Coomber of the pre-race favourites, managed a medal.

Her main rival, Switzerland's Maya Pedersen, finished fifth, while Canada's Michelle Kelly - who holds the track record - was 10th.

Coomber said: "Michelle was nowhere and I was worried that could have been me."

She said the fact the Americans had beaten her to gold and silver did not surprise her.

"I could have told you at the start of the week that they would have won," Coomber said.

"They have had so much track time and know every nook and cranny.

"I've only had six runs on the track and had never raced in snow here."

And there were rumours that after Coomber's second run, the track was cleared before the two Americans raced down.

She said: "I've heard that too but don't know if it's true or not.

"All I can say is that I've won my medal fair and square."

Coomber is now spending a little leisure time in Salt Lake City before flying home to England on Friday - to be reunited with her boxer dog Fogarty.

She said: "I woke up at 2.30am on the morning of the race. It is a huge relief it is over.

"I'm looking forward to having a lie-in and eating what I want, including junk food."

And she has yet to make a decision about her future.

Coomber has been a full-time athlete since she was granted an 18-month sabbatical from the RAF.

She added: "It is very difficult when you are training day-in and day-out.

"I wouldn't have said it was mind-numbing but I found it hard coming from a pretty difficult job to being a full-time athlete.

"I would like to do something else to keep me occupied but I also want to be at the 2006 Winter Olympics."


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