Lizzy Yarnold targets further Olympic success after skeleton return

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter
Lizzy Yarnold
Olympic champion Yarnold added World Championship gold to her collection last year

Olympic champion Lizzy Yarnold has returned to training in a bid to defend her crown at the 2018 Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Yarnold won the skeleton title at Sochi 2014, but took a 12-month sabbatical after completing a career grand-slam with world gold last year.

The 27-year-old also married long-term partner James Roche last month.

"I'm incredibly refreshed and a world away from the emotional exhaustion that I was suffering from," she said.

"Having a year to solely focus on training in the gym reminded me of what I love most about my job - challenging yourself physically and mentally to be better than you've been."

In her absence, team-mate Laura Deas secured one World Cup victory last season.

However, Yarnold is determined to return to her best form and ensure a GB slider is regularly topping the podium leading into the next Olympic Games.

"I'd like the World Championship trophy back on my mantelpiece and retaining my title at the 2018 Olympics is of course in my sights," she said.

"I am even more motivated to be a better slider than I was before."

Yarnold spent much of her year away from the British Skeleton programme using the 'Ben Ainslie Racing' training facilities, near her home in Portsmouth, in order to maintain her fitness.

She will continue to divide her time between that base and British Skeleton's setup at the University of Bath during the summer before returning for the season-opening World Cup race in December.

"Lizzy reiterated her desire to succeed at a second Olympics on numerous occasions and there is no reason why she can't go on and achieve even more," said GB Skeleton performance advisor Andi Schmid.

"Although she wasn't out on the ice last season, we worked very closely with her in terms of a specific training programme to ensure she would be ready to kick on again when she returned."

Lizzy Yarnold makes history with record run