Team GB ready to ‘make history’ with Pyeongchang Winter Olympics performance

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Great Britain will send its most talented squad yet to the Winter Olympics and one which can “make history once again”, according to chef de mission Mike Hay.

Team GB will have 59 athletes competing in South Korea, which will be the largest squad the British Olympic Association has sent to a Winter Games.

UK Sport has set a target of at least five medals, which would surpass the team’s best return of four medals – achieved in Chamonix in 1924 and in Sochi four years ago.

Short-track speed-skater Elise Christie is a leading medal hope and was among the first group of Team GB athletes departing from Heathrow Airport on Friday for a flight to the Games, which run from February 9 to 25.

Hay believes the squad, which will see Team GB compete in 11 of the 15 disciplines – including five snowboarders in ‘big air’ as the event makes its Olympic debut – now have the ability to deliver podium finishes across the board.

“Not only is this the largest team we have ever taken to a Winter Olympics, but I feel it is also the most talented,” said Hay.

“Given results over the last two years at elite level, there is potential for success across a broader range of sports than ever before and I am confident that with this group of athletes we can make history once again.”

Lizzy Yarnold led the way in Sochi, winning gold in the women’s skeleton. Jenny Jones won snowboard bronze and the men’s and women’s curling teams claimed silver and bronze respectively.

The Sochi medal tally could yet rise if the men’s bobsleigh team receive a retrospective bronze as a result of ongoing hearings into Russian doping.

Great Britain’s Elise Christie (centre) is a leading medal hopes for Team GB at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. (Steve Parsons/PA Wire)
Speed-skater Elise Christie (centre) is a leading medal hope for Team GB at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games (Steve Parsons/PA Wire)

Three-time world champion Christie apart, the team have further medal prospects in curling, skiing, snowboarding, skeleton and bobsleigh.

Eve Muirhead, in her third Games, leads a women’s curling team that won last year’s European Championships.

The Scot will be joined in Pyeongchang by her two brothers Glen and Thomas, while siblings Kyle and Cammy Smith also make the curling squad.

Snowboarder Katie Ormerod, a former gymnast, is a contender in freestyle snowboarding’s slopestyle and big air disciplines.

Slalom skier Dave Ryding is another medal contender after an historic World Cup slalom silver in January of last year and six top-10 finishes in last season’s World Cup.

Cross-country skier Andrew Musgrave, buoyed by a first World Cup podium finish last year, will also entertain hopes of making the podium.

An 11-strong freestyle skiing contingent includes a trio of medal contenders in James Woods, Izzy Atkin and Katie Summerhayes, whose sister Molly will also take part.

Aged 19, Atkin is the youngest member of the British squad set for South Korea, which will see 31 Team GB athletes make a Winter Olympics debut.

Snowboard cross athlete Zoe Gillings-Brier, 32, will be at a fourth Winter Olympics, with 36-year-old curler Kelly Schafer the oldest member of the squad.

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