It was a good day in Pyeongchang for New Zealander Rhys Thornbury in the Skeleton.
Thornbury was in 8th place after the first heat, with a pretty smart time of 50.90s. Although he hit the wobbles nearing the end of the run in Heat Two, his 51.03s was still 10th fastest, and good enough to see him qualify for the final two runs tomorrow in 8th place once times were accumulated.
Even if he was to improve his start a little it is difficult to see Thornbury sneaking into the Top 5, but it should be viewed as a very satisfying result regardless. He has taken a year’s leave from his role as a Weapons Technician in the British RAF, who have provided him with plenty of support.
Rhys Thornbury only took the sport up in 2011, and at 28 years of age Beijing in 2022 will no doubt be a clear target. His coach is Martin Reittl, who should know a thing or two about how to throw yourself head first down an ice track – the Austrian came away with the Olympic Silver medal at Salt Lake City in 2002 after winning the World Champs the previous year.
Cos I'm 36 I just yelled out "look at their butts wobbling" while watching slo mo skeleton.
— Hoyden Wren (@wendypooh) February 15, 2018
But the real star of the show today was local hero Sungbin Yun. He smashed the Track Record in the first run, notching up a tasty 50.28s. Not content with that, he significantly lowered that mark in the second run, with a flawless display resulting in a new record of 50.07s – helped by a new starting record of 4.59s.
Yun is a quite ludicrous 0.74s ahead of the rest of the field after two runs, and it would seem only a disaster can stop him ending up with the Gold medal. Nikita Tregubov (OAR) and Latvian Martins Dukurs sit well back in second and third spots respectively.
There was a distinctly Cool Runnings feel to the end of the qualifying heats (20 of the 30 participants go through to tomorrow’s runs). The penultimate athlete to run the course was Jamaican Anthony Watson, and then to really top that, the event finished with a run of 54.46s from Ghanaian (yes, Ghanaian) athlete Akwasi Frimpong.
As a Jamaican, at least Anthony Watson can feel satisfied that his coach didn’t nick his gear, after the very strange story of Sandra Kiriasis hit the news earlier today.
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