Wrexham-born Olympic hopeful Laura Deas will start her bid for glory today backed by her family who have travelled 5,500 miles around the world to cheer her on in PyeongChang.

The Winter Olympics is the pinnacle of the Team GB skeleton racer’s eight-year career in the sport and she is being tipped for glory after a promising training run in South Korea earlier this week. 

That saw her edge ahead of team-mate and current gold medal holder Lizzy Yarnold.

Team GB’s women have won a medal in skeleton at each Winter Olympics since 2002, including golds for Amy Williams in 2010 and Yarnold in 2014.

In the Flintshire village Llanfynydd, friends and neighbours are getting ready to cheer on the sports-mad girl they saw grow up to excel at hockey, netball and horse riding before opting for the high-octane world of skeleton where riders can reach speeds of 80mph face down on their sleds.

Laura – who attended the former village school Llanfynydd CP and Howell’s School in Denbigh – was handpicked for the dangerous sport after attending a talent-spotting programme called Girls4Gold which her brother, Fred, heard advertised on the radio in 2009.

As part of the initiative Olympic selectors targeted sports which offered the best chance of GB medals and matched up talented individuals for competition, with Laura abandoning a promising equestrian career as a three-day eventer to take up her new sport.

Her father, Ewan, a retired GP, recalled: “She went along to the trials day and wasn’t allowed to pick what sport she wanted to do – they told her she might be good at skeleton.

“It was her sprinting and the explosive acceleration needed to get up to 60mph in the skeleton that gave her the edge.

“She had always done very well at school sports.

“She was a good athlete at Howell’s School (in Denbigh) and still holds many of the sporting records there because the school closed.

“She played hockey and quite a bit of netball at school and she has skied since she was very young so that has no doubt helped her with winter sports.”

Laura, who now lives in Melksham, Wiltshire, close to the British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association’s elite centre in Bath, is planning to marry her fiance, Richard, in June in Hereford.

The 29-year-old, who is currently seventh in the world standings, will be looking to maintain the impact GB athletes have made in skeleton since the Millennium.

The success has been achieved despite GB athletes having to contend with obvious climate restrictions, leaving them mainly restricted to preparing on dry runs.

“They have a push track at Bath, but they spent some time last October and November in Lillehammer,” added Evan.

He said: “Laura has invested many hours in getting to where she is and I think pretty early on winning an Olympic medal was her target.

“She has funding from the National Lottery through UK Sport based on hitting targets, but in the old days she wasn’t paid at all other than her expenses – she’s had plenty of support from mum and dad.

“Her mum, Susan, is also out here as is her brother.

“We are all very proud. She has had a huge amount of messages from people in the village and friends.

“There will be many people back in Llanfynydd shouting for her.”

Laura goes in the skeleton’s first heats at lunchtime today (GMT), aiming to secure a place in Saturday’s finals.