Rudman's skeleton silver gets Great Britain off the mark

Great Britain won only medal at these Games, but at least it was a memorable one. It came from women’s skeleton athlete Shelley Rudman, who won silver after a tough battle on the ice, and a tough battle to get her career going in the first place.

Rudman had started her sporting life as a track athlete who specialised in the 400m hurdles. She was studing at Bath University, in the south of England, which also acts as the training base for Britain' skeleton and bobsleigh athletes.

In the search for new athletes, the sliding team persuaded Rudman to give their sport a try, and she discovered that she liked it. She entered the world junior championship, then the Europa Cup series and then, after two years of competing, won a race. In the year before the Olympics, Rudman became established as a familiar face in the top ten at world cup events, but she had never finished in the top three. An Olympic medal seemed unlikely.

But expectations all changed after her first run. She was fourth fastest, and within touching distance of the athletes in second and third. Switzerland's Maya Pedersen looked a solid bet for the gold medal, but the battle for silver was wide open.

Oh her second run, Rudman was second quickest, behind Pedersen and did move up to second in the standings. Having never stood on a world cup podium, she now mounted the second step as an Olympic silver medallist.

Her career in the sport had been partly funded by fundraising in her home town of Pewsey, where she became a local hero. A canoe race was held in order to raise funds towards buying a new sled.