I caught up with GB Skeleton athlete Kimberley Murray a few weeks ago at the University of Bath, which boasts the UK’s only bobsleigh and skeleton push-start track. It is also home to the British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association.
Great Britain’s skeleton athletes have medaled at every games in which the sport has featured and Kim has her eyes firmly set on a medal at the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022.
In the UK the way most athletes discover skeleton is through a talent ID search, and Kim was no different.
“I first applied for British Skeletons talent ID scheme which was called Power2Podium after the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Over the course of this year I underwent four phases of selection which culminated in an ice camp with ten other girls. We went to Lillehammer, Norway in November 2014 and that is when I first tried the sport.”
Kim was selected for the squad in Jan 2015 and further training camps followed. After a summer spent travelling back and forth between Edinburgh and Bath for training camps whilst still working full time for the Scottish Institute of Sport, Kim completed her first races for Team GB and placed 6th and 10th. Not a bad debut!
“I officially quit my job as an exercise physiologist in Sep 2016 and raced on the Europa Cup circuit after placing 4th in the GB selection race in Lillehammer. My best results came from my most recent events, I got my first podium in St. Moritz, Switzerland with a 4th place. I followed this up with a 3rd (real podium!) and 4th in Altenberg, Germany.”
As I’m writing this, Kim is attending a tough summer training camp in Cesana, the venue of the 2006 Winter Games in Turin.
“The camps are set up to mainly focus on push performance,” said Ed McDermott, Head Start Coach at GB Skeleton.
“In a normal training week back in Bath, we’d do between 12 and 18 pushes per athlete, while in Cesana we’re looking to do between 24 and 40. That’s massively important in terms of generating volume and exposure to the skill. “
In Skeleton, the push start is crucial and athletes spend a long time pushing heavy weighted sleds around in the gym to build up incredible leg strength.
“I love training and making it my job means I can find out how strong, powerful, and fast I can be compared to the best in the world. I like to do things properly which I why I crave the high performance environment. I enjoy the ‘athlete’ lifestyle and I enjoy skeleton and learning new things which lead to improvement.”
“I have always felt like being an athlete is a major part of my identity and when the opportunity came along to pursue an Olympic medal I grabbed it with both hands. I like to aim high and work towards goals that are tough to attain. Not many people get to do what I am aiming for, and that drives me because it sets me apart.”