Lizzy Yarnold:  ‘It can be an unsafe sport. But that’s kind of what I love about it. It’s tough’


Here is an idea for a new television quiz show: try and guess the profession of a guest from their favourite pastime. First up: Lizzy Yarnold. It is a fair bet to suggest that, when you hear what she likes to do in her spare time, you would never imagine that she will, in 100 days, be flinging herself headfirst down an icy tube high up in the South Korean mountains at speeds of upwards of 80mph in defence of her Olympic skeleton bob title.

“I love a spreadsheet,” she says, as she sits in her training base at Bath University. “When I get my mortgage annual statement, I absolutely love to check it against my own calculations.”

In person, Britain’s foremost adrenalin athlete is nothing like you might imagine someone to be whose day job involves a continuous flirtation with danger. Not remotely unhinged, not apparently harbouring a death wish, the woman who has recently taken a degree in book-keeping has the organised, eminently sensible air of the head girl of a Kent grammar school she once was.

“It’s odd isn’t it?” she says of the yawning gap between reality and assumption. “But my dad knew I was like this when I was a little girl and we went to the Dome in 2000. There was a ride like a tower where you got dropped from a great height. I badgered him to let me go on it and when I got off, Dad was expecting me to be all flustered. Instead I said: can I go again?”