Amy Williams believes winning Olympic gold is like putting together a puzzle—and reckons Chorley’s Dave Ryding has all the pieces he needs in Beijing.
Williams knows a thing or two about awe-inspiring, odds-defying success: in 2010, the skeleton star claimed Great Britain’s first individual Winter Olympic gold for 30 years.
So it’s no surprise that she was among those elated to watch Ryding make history on January 22, when he became the first Brit to win alpine skiing World Cup gold.
“His performance was incredible. For him, I think it’s probably like, wow, I finally did it,” said Williams.
Though, she recalled from her own experience, “It’s only kind of afterwards that you maybe learn about the history.
“Like, wow, did you realise the importance of this historic moment? And as an athlete, you don’t really think about that side of it.
“You know, you’re doing your performance day job.”
Ryding, who claimed his first World Cup podium, a silver, in 2017, said he’d “been smashing his head against a brick ceiling” in search of gold ever since, and hopes his milestone “means it’s easier for the next generation.”
The 35-year-old, competing in his fourth Olympics, is the oldest member of Team GB, and is gunning for his first medal in Beijing.
His performance improved with every Games, from 27th place at this 2010 giant slalom debut to ninth at PyeongChang 2018 where he also finished joint fifth with the mixed team squad. Williams hopes Ryding’s latest triumph is proof he’s in better shape than ever.
She said: “I haven’t really looked at the stats of different sports of if someone was to win a medal, what’s the knock-on effect, but as an athlete you just want to win that medal and do your very best. If you know it can be a gold, silver or bronze, you just really hope it will be.”
Mentality, Williams firmly believes, was key to her Vancouver success and will be for Ryding, who followed his historic win with a disappointing 20th-place finish last week.
But that was then, and this is—well, almost now. The first men’s slalom run will begin at 2.15am GMT on February 16. Williams said: “You’ve got all this skill set, you’ve got years of knowledge, you might have all the skills and it’s just piecing it together in that one moment, on a particular ski hill that suits you, on a particular track that suits you, or a certain environment.
“Sometimes it just clicks with you better, or your equipment is just right, just perfect for that one moment in time.
“And I think that’s what it’s about, isn’t it? The environment, the field of play, everything’s got to come together and click at the right time.”
Williams’ gold is one of just 32 medals ever won by British Winter Olympians. She’s eager to welcome athletes like Ryding to the exclusive club.
She added: “Every decision of every day is to get to that one performance.
“When that moment happens, you’re like, ‘I did it. I knew I could do it. I did it when it mattered on the day that it mattered.’
“The relief, being so proud to have that gold medal to bring home to your country, singing that national anthem, it’s a moment I’ll never forget.
“I just wish that upon other athletes that they can have that same feeling and bring home medals for Great Britain.”
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