Lizzy Yarnold: Olympic skeleton champion taking year-long break

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter
Lizzy Yarnold: I realised I was exhausted

Olympic champion Lizzy Yarnold will miss the 2015-16 World Cup season as part of a 12 month break from skeleton.

The Briton, 26, has won Olympic, World, European and overall World Cup golds in the last two years - exertions which have left her feeling 'burnt out'.

Earlier this week ex-world champion Kristan Bromley and team-mate Rose McGrandle both retired from the sport.

Yarnold insists she is not quitting and will return rejuvenated for the defence of her Olympic crown at the 2018 Games.

Lizzy Yarnold wins World Championship gold

The slider will still be training in the UK throughout the coming season, but will not return to the ice until late 2016.

"Coming off the back of my win in Sochi it was hard to re-motivate myself, but I had the Grand Slam in my sights and wanted so desperately to be World Champion that it saw me through," said Yarnold.

"It wasn't until I returned home that I realised I was emotionally fatigued - more than the usual end-of-season exhaustion."

Yarnold, who will marry in May, is determined to secure more history upon her return and become the first slider ever to successfully defend an Olympic skeleton title.

"It will be hard to watch others compete without me but I really feel like this is the right time for me to refresh, take stock and come back even more motivated for the future," she added.

Lizzy Yarnold on British skeleton strength:
"I have no doubt the British team will do brilliantly this year. I thrive off having intense competition and knowing that people can beat me if I put a foot wrong. It helps spur me on to be the best that I can be and I know that if the competition improves during this season it will help me be a better competitor when I get back on the ice."

With Yarnold, McGrandle and Shelley Rudman - who has extended her maternity leave - all missing, Laura Deas is the only established slider in the British women's programme for this season.

However, new talents like Donna Creighton and Jordan McIntosh are expected to make the step-up to regular World Cup competition.

"We fully support Lizzy's desire to take a season off from competing," said British Skeleton Performance Director Andi Schmid.

"Lizzy has already achieved some amazing things in her career and I am sure there is plenty more still to come."

"We have an impressive degree of strength in depth within the squad and are confident that we will still be competing for podium places this season."

The season-opening World Cup event begins in Altenberg, Germany, at the end of November.

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