A 21-YEAR-OLD originally from Bentley Heath has gold on her mind after picking up a bronze medal at the Skeleton North Americas Cup at Lake Placid in New York State.
Madelaine Smith only took up skeleton racing in 2014 after successfully progressing through a talent identification programme whilst studying at Bath University.
After an initial entry of 1,000 people, Madelaine successfully made the cut for the final ten competitors where she then travelled to Norway’s famous Lilliehammer run to see if she would make the final cut.
Following a lengthy process, Madelaine successfully completed the programme and now trains across Europe and competes against international competition on a regular basis.
With one eye on the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, hosted in PyeongChang, South Korea, Madelaine received an added boost to her ultimate dream when picking up a bronze medal at the North Americas Cup in March.
Madelaine, who moved from Bentley Heath to Bath University to study sports performance, discovered her interest in sport with Small Heath Athletics club – before moving onto the famous Birchfield Harriors club in Birmingham.
She added: “I used to be a 100 metre hurdler and had an interest in becoming a professional athlete.
“At university many people find out if they’re going to make it or not and that’s where the talent identification programme started for me after a close friend encouraged me to try it out.
“There was so much testing to do from psychological, physiological, height, weight and more.
“When I was finally selected, I spent two years training in Germany, Austria, Norway and it’s been fantastic to be able to perform at an elite level.
“I trained really hard for the North Americas Cup and, although training in the build up to the event didn’t run as well as I’d like, I was over the moon to achieve and bronze medal and the entire GB team performed really well.
Madelaine has even received support from GB athlete Lizzy Yarnold – who famously won gold at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi – on social media.
The support appears to have inspired Madelaine to follow in the footsteps of Lizzy after she listed her goals for the future.
“My aim is to make the Europa Cup squad and compete against Europe later this year,” she said.
“The ultimate aim is to make the Olympics.”
She currently juggles her competitive skelton racing with her university studies and said without the support of her university, none of her success on the ice would’ve been possible.
Madelaine also praised her parents, who now live in Warwick, for their support throughout her journey up the ranks in skeleton racing and said a rich family history in sport has helped her progress.
The bronze medalist added: “My parents are so supportive and they’ve always known that I’ve been into sport from a young age.
“My mum plays county golf and my step-dad was a former professional, so they know not to push me too hard but at the same time allow me to enjoy myself too.
“My boyfriend Olly is also into winter sport and is a GB bobsleigh pilot, it’s nice to have a partner that understands winter sport.
“Sometimes my friends find it hard to understand and often say that I never go out with them but sacrifices have rewards and here I am with a bronze medal so I’m very happy with my efforts.
“I’ve been away from university for a long time but Bath have been fantastic and have extended my course so I’ll finish in August to enable me time to catch up.
“I’ve been skyping lecturers from foreign countries and they’ve made the experience of learning skeleton whilst studying incredibly smooth.”
To keep track of Madelaine’s performance, you can follow her on Twitter by searching @MadelaineESmith.