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Brands Hatch queen of speed Yarnold slides to Olympic gold

Friday, February 14 2014

Former Brands Hatch employee Lizzy Yarnold has claimed Team GB's first gold medal of the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia, after sliding to victory in the skeleton contest at the Sanki Sliding Centre.

Yarnold from West Kingsdown worked in the catering department at the circuit from 2005 to 2007, before taking up the skeleton six years ago.

She won the medal after setting the fastest overall time down the 1.365km course. Her first runs yesterday (Thursday) saw her extend a 0.4 second margin over her nearest competitors, a huge gap in the skeleton discipline, with all four runs counting towards the end results. The gap extended to almost 0.8 seconds after a track record run on her third run today, which was over half a second better than her previous efforts. Her final run saw her improve her overall margin to 0.97 seconds to claim Team GB's first gold of the games.

Skeleton riders slide down a designated ice course lying face down on a purpose built sled, the skeleton name coming from the 'bony appearance of the sled'. The Sochi course involved 19 turns and involved the 25-year-old hitting speeds of up to 80mph and forces of up to 5G.

Yarnold was a hot favourite coming into the competition after posting four of the five fastest times in pre event training on the same course, and carried that form over to the main competition.

"It's not going to sink in for a long time" Yarnold told the BBC. "I totally enjoyed the fourth run, it was a bit messy but I'm so thrilled, it's been hard work but so worth it.

"I've shown the world what I'm capable of, but I can't believe I won the race! I couldn't have done it without my friends and family and I just can't believe I'm Olympic champion!"

Mandy Scott, Group Catering Team Leader based at Brands Hatch worked with Lizzy during her tenure at the Kent circuit, and was thrilled to see her claim gold. "She was always really hard working and never let us down. She was very pleasant - a lovely girl and clearly really into her sport and always a good source of fun. We're all really proud of her and she thoroughly deserves her success."