Beijing 2022: The moment has arrived for Bath-based athletes as Winter Olympic Games skeleton competitions begin
The Team GB skeleton athletes who train at the University of Bath are all set to begin their Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games campaigns, with three exciting days of sliding taking place from Thursday to Saturday.
It will be a first Olympic experience for Matt Weston and Marcus Wyatt, who start the men’s competition overnight with Heats 1 and 2 at 1.30am and 3am GMT respectively. Their medals will be decided on Friday, with Heat 3 at 12.20pm GMT before the decisive run at 1.55pm GMT.
The women’s competition, with the opening heats on Friday and final two on Saturday at the same respective times as the men’s, will feature another British Olympic debutant, Brogan Crowley, and PyeongChang 2018 bronze-medallist Laura Deas.
That bronze is one of seven medals won by skeleton athletes training at the University of Bath, three of them gold, since the UK’s only outdoor push-start track was built and opened on campus in 2002.
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“It’s a different mentality coming into Beijing because I know that I’ve stood on an Olympic start line and delivered under pressure at the previous Games,” said Deas. “I take a massive amount of confidence from the fact that I’ve tested myself in that unbelievable situation and come out with a medal.
“I don’t take anything for granted, though, and I’m not dwelling on what happened four years ago. The sport has moved on and we’ve had to move on. I’ve been adapting to a new sled this year, one example of how we’re trying to innovate and keep moving forward because it’s a fast-moving sport.
“We’re constantly trying to learn and figure things out, and we don’t roll everything out as a finished product until the Olympics itself. I still very much feel like when we’re there and we put our entire package together that I can go and do something special. I’m a competitive athlete and I want to go out there and win another medal, that’s why I’ve trained as hard as I have for the past four years.”
Training for Deas and her British Bobsleigh & Skeleton Association (BBSA) team-mates involves working on their strength and conditioning in the Team Bath Gym & Fitness Centre, sprinting on the indoor athletics track at the University’s Sports Training Village and honing their all-important start on the push-start track.
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“As a nation we are so good at competing at the Olympic Games,” said Weston, who won gold on the World Cup circuit this season. “With the racing this year, we’ve been trying stuff and testing not only equipment but processes for us personally and how we can perform at the Games. We haven’t gone out all guns blazing yet, so the fact I’ve had a gold medal this season on not the Games equipment and not the Games processes fills me with a lot of confidence.”
Wyatt won silver on the Beijing track at the Olympic Test Event in October and said the secret of Britain’s skeleton success is: “The culture – the coaches and staff know how to get the best out of every single athlete who comes in, regardless of what sport they’ve come.
“There’s all sorts of all different backgrounds – I played American Football, Matt did rugby, Laura equestrian – and the coaches are really good at taking these athletes and turning them into Olympic medal winners. They are so good at teaching you everything you need to know and helping you along the way.”