Sochi 2014: Amy Williams on her sporting life

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My Sporting Life: Amy Williams

Amy Williams claimed Team GB's only medal of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in skeleton. By winning gold, she became Britain's first solo Winter Olympics champion in 30 years and the first female individual gold medallist for 58 years. She retired in 2012 and is forging a career as a rally co-driver. She talks to Get Inspired about her sporting life.

We didn't have a TV or a computer when I was growing up. Together with my twin sister and my brother, I was always in the garden or drawing. It was a great childhood.

I don't feel I am competitive. But my parents say I always wanted to do the best I could do and be the best I could be and that's probably a different way of being competitive.

Sport was a way of using your energy. It was all about trying something new and being outside. You had all your friends and if they did it too, you'd meet them at the weekend. It was a very social thing to do.

My parents were always supportive. They drove me to athletics competitions and to swimming. There was always a cross country competition on my mum's birthday and she'd always come to watch me in the freezing cold.

In my late teens, I was plagued by a lot of injuries. I had really serious shin splints which stopped me doing the 400m. It was then I realised I wasn't going to be quick enough or good enough for athletics.

It was at Bath University gym that I first met the skeleton athletes. I never quite knew what they did! But it coincided with the 2002 Winter Olympics and I remember watching Alex Coomber get her bronze medal.

I paid my own way to the World Push Championships. It was in the Netherlands in 2002 and I finished second. The British performance director Simon Timson told me to have a go on ice, so I took out a student loan and paid to go on an Army ice camp in Norway.

I burst into tears on my second run down. I had to hide it because I didn't want to look like a wimp in front of all of the Army people. I certainly didn't love it to begin with but I had an addiction of wanting to become better and better.

It got competitive between quite a few girls. There was only one space on the team for the 2006 Games and I didn't get selected. It was tough but I was asked to commentate for BBC Radio 5 live instead.

Being in Turin in 2006 lit a fire in my belly. I was never going to watch another Olympics - I wanted to compete in Vancouver and I became obsessed. I was so determined to go to the Olympics, to compete and to get a medal.

Skeleton athletes have maybe got a little screw loose. When you go from the top, you are going to hit the walls, you're going to crash, it hurts, and you are going to be bruised and black and blue. It takes a lot of guts to get to the top of the track and throw yourself back down again.

We are not fearless but we're brave. You learn to control the fear. You don't want the track to beat you. It's not as dangerous as it looks. We're not that crazy.

When I arrived in Vancouver, I felt very lonely. In the food hall, there were thousands of people and seats, and I was looking for someone I knew. It was quite daunting, a big experience, a big place to be. You were at the Olympic Games.

I knew the Olympic track suited me. I'd got a World Cup silver medal the previous year. In the practice runs, I was in the top three places.

Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili died on the track. It was scary and we were offered one extra run from the third corner down from the top. Only me and one other World Cup athlete took it and a few other smaller nations of inexperienced sliders. That one run made a big difference to me.

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Archive : Amy Williams wins Olympic Gold in Vancouver

After the training runs, I knew I could get a medal. As long as I concentrated. My training had gone well and my coaches were confident.

The night before the race, I cried. There was so much pressure on me, from myself and from the team. I knew I had to get a medal to keep the sport alive and funded and I realised this was pretty much on me now.

I was last down the track on the final run. I remember being in the changing room all on my own, with not a single soul. The track was almost empty at the top, just my coach holding my sled and me thinking "this is it - this is for the gold medal".

I didn't know if I had won the gold because it was a messy run. I made a few mistakes. I remember getting off my sled thinking that maybe I'd dropped down a place. I didn't want to presume I had won.

I felt really shy when I won the gold. I knew everyone was watching me. It was just a strange moment. You don't know what it is going to feel like until that moment and I just remember feeling really tired.

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