WHEN she first lays her eyes upon the bright lights of the Sochi 2014 opening ceremony, Shelley Rudman will resist every temptation to give in to the burden of pressure that she’s buried away for the latest chapter of her Olympic journey.
Rudman was Great Britain’s flagbearer at the 2010 Games in Vancouver, just reward for flying the flag for her country on the ice by securing Team GB’s only medal in Turin four years earlier.
Next week, the Pewsey ice queen goes in search of topping off her stunning career medal haul with the glory of Olympic gold but the Wiltshire ace insists that she’s barely giving the pressure of her third games a second thought.
Relaxed reigning world champion Rudman has got ice running through her veins as she keeps her sights set solely on ruling in Russia.
“I’m really calm and relaxed going in to it – I’m thinking ‘I might podium or I might not’ and I’m prepared for whatever happens but that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be competitive,” the skeleton star said.
“Everything that I’ve done this year has been geared up to give me the best chance of doing my best on the track at Sochi. I’ve done well in the World Cups and I’m really happy with the result that I ended up with (Rudman finished third overall).
“I’m just really proud and excited to be going to my third Olympics.
“I never ever thought that I’d be in the sport for so long and even qualify for one Games – I definitely still pinch myself.
“I’d love to win gold and it’s what I’m out there to try and do but I’m still so proud of my silver medal (from Turin 2006).
“A lot of people go through their entire careers without ever winning a major medal.
“I’m not worrying about the pressure because I’ve just been focussing on what I need to do out there and I just can’t wait to go and try to make it happen.”
Rudman went in to the Vancouver Games as the top British female competitor, following her silver medal in the World Cup series that year.
This time around, the spotlight is firmly Great Britain teammate Lizzy Yarnold after her superb World Cup gold this season but Rudman says there isn’t a rivalry between the two sliders.
“To be honest, it’s been quite nice because she’s taken the focus away from me and I’ve just been able to get on with things,” she said.
“For many years, myself and Kristan (Bromley, Rudman’s fiance and fellow Team GB skeleton athlete) have held the fort, so it’s great to see other talent coming through and being successful.
“I’m glad that Lizzy’s doing well and to be honest, there’s a lot of sportsmanship between all of the athletes from all of the different countries.
“You see the same people at all of the big events and we all get on so well.”
After going through the Olympic experience in Italy and Canada, Rudman could be forgiven for developing a few superstitions ahead of her Russian adventure.
She admitted: “I’m a very superstitious person and I do have a few things that I like to do but I won’t be saying what they are before Sochi.
“I guess the only one that I can really talk about is that I don’t wear any of my specific kit for the Games before I get out there.
“I don’t try any of it on beforehand, apart from at the kitting out, and I just wear generic Great Britain stuff in the meantime.”
Rudman is also keen to show her gratitude to her home village for once again getting behind her latest Olympic bid.
“Everyone in Pewsey has been great and someone tweeted me to let me know that there’s another big good luck banner, which is really nice. The guys there are so cool,” she said.
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