Going for Gold in Sochi: Shelley Rudman
Great Britain’s skeleton silver medallist in Turin in 2006 will be aiming to go one better at the Sochi sliding centre in 2014, but the track ahead is long and unpredictable. Shelley Rudman reveals how she is gearing up to give herself the best opportunity of Olympic gold.
I joined Twitter after the 2010 Olympic Winter Games so that I can stay in touch with people who follow the sport as well as family and friends. Now I can quickly update everybody who is interested and post any photos without having to send countless text messages and emails.
When I first get on a track, I either click with it straight away or find it really hard to connect with. You need to be sliding with form, ride a little luck and you have to be quick to understand a track. I am very excited to be going to Russia for the first time. I have been learning some basic Russian so that I can speak with the locals – and the Russian sliders on the circuit are helping me.
On race day you need to be on high alert, thinking before you hit the curves, not 100th of a second later. It becomes even harder if you take a few knocks. I try to listen to my body and take an extra rest day if need be so that I am as mentally sharp as I can be.
For the five-month season, most weeks are race weeks. We’ll arrive at a venue and have three training days with two runs per day. The day after is competition day with two runs. Within that competition week I’ll have two to three gym sessions.
I only weigh around 54kg, which means I have to use the maximum sled weight, 35kg, to try and make up weight on the other girls, who mostly push a 28kg sled.
My partner [GB skeleton athlete Kristan Bromley] and I have to come home from the track or the gym and be mum and dad so it’s straight into parent mode. Our daughter Ella is five years old and she comes on
tour with us. When you get home it doesn’t matter how your day was, she is always there and ready to cuddle you and play.
I like to listen to music the night before a race when I am preparing my sled but never during my build-up routine as you can miss vital announcements that might tell you key information to help you race.
I struggle to keep my head up in the big G-curves so I often rest my head on the ice – I have to make sure I am not surprised by anything.
It would be great to go to my third Olympic Games and come away with a medal. There are so many factors that will come into play in the Olympic season. I can’t take anything for granted and will have to work hard to stay injury and illness free. I have a super-fast metabolism so I lose weight fast. I am not on a high-cardio workout programme. I have to get as many carbohydrates on board as possible and keep my sessions
heavily strength based.
My sprint starts are probably the weakest element of my overall performance. We train with lots of power-based activity, weightlifting, core stability work and explosive, short sprints. We’ll focus on that from March until October. Once a month, I’ll have a push on the ice and try to hone my technique.
The season is long and gruelling with only short breaks. It is difficult to find time to let those niggles heal, or to rest and recover. To cope with the intensity of the winter period, you have to ensure you prepare yourself in the summer to be as robust as possible. Stretching and maintenance physiotherapy keeps injury at bay during the season.