GB's Lizzy Yarnold becomes skeleton junior world champion

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter
Lizzy Yarnold
Junior skeleton world champion Lizzy Yarnold first tried the sport in 2008

Great Britain's Lizzy Yarnoldexternal-link continued her fantastic start to 2012 by claiming gold at the Skeleton Junior World Championships in Innsbruck, Austria.

The 23-year-old from Kent won her first senior World Cup eventexternal-link, in only her second senior appearance last week.

"It feels amazing, I knew the competition would be tight and everyone brought their A-game," said Yarnold.

"I was tense on the line at the start of the second run, but managed to relax enough and do what I had to."

Yarnold held a lead of just seven hundredths of a second after the first round, but her time of 54.70 seconds on the final run gave her an overall time of one minute 49.50 seconds and victory over Russia's Olga Potylitsina.

"On the first run I actually clocked 121 kilometres per hour, which is my fastest on this track, so I knew things were going well for me from the first run and I was just so pleased to replicate it from the second run," Yarnold told BBC Sport.

"I was quite astonished really, I had a fantastic team round me. GB Skeletonexternal-link are always extremely supportive and help me enjoy what I do, that makes me relaxed and results come from that."

Yarnold also paid tribute to Great Britain team-mates Shelly Rudman, Olympic silver medallist in 2006, and Vancouver Olympic champion Amy Williams, who have helped her since joining the senior ranks.

"We're all good friends and very open," said the 23-year-old.

"Last weekend, after the first run, Shelley came over and said, 'Lizzy, good job, that was really well done.' To know you have that support from your own nation is really, really helpful and pushes you forward."

Yarnold was introduced to skeleton through a UK Sport Talent ID programmeexternal-link in 2008, but currently receives no direct funding through the organisation. As such she relies heavily on sponsorship and an annual payment of £3,500 from the Talented Athleteexternal-link [TASS] support programme.

The skeleton specialist admits that although she has enjoyed her recent victories, the World Championship in Lake Placidexternal-link, New York, will be key to securing more financial backing.

"I work full-time in the summer [for an insurance company] and train full-time, so having some sponsors really makes a massive difference, supporting training costs, transport and buying new equipment such as helmets - which cost £500-600.

"I like to have a new one every season because they are so important."

Yarnold added: "We only get funding based on two events, the World Championships and Olympic Games, so none of my results count towards that yet. I will need to perform at the World Championships."