MUM'S THE WORD FOR RUDMAN; WINTER OLYMPICS: The Women Who Are Britain's Best Hopes of Striking Gold at the Vancouver Games; How Two-Year-Old Ella Is Helping to Cheer Shelley towards Her Gold Medal Dream
Byline: From Peter Higgs IN WINTERBERG, GERMANY
ELLA BROMLEY has been talking for only a few months but she already knows how to shout: 'Go, go, go, Mummy.' The twoyear-old is playing her part in helping her mother, Shelley Rudman, prepare for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, where she will be Britain's best hope of a gold medal.
Four years ago, Rudman brought home Britain's only medal from the Turin Games when she claimed silver in the skeleton bob, the event in which contestants hurtle down a 1500metre ice track at speeds around 80mph on a 35kg sled which has been compared with a flying teatray.
After taking 18 months out of the sport to have her first child with partner Kristan Bromley, Britain's top men's skeleton bobber, Rudman has built herself back to fitness and is once again challenging the world's best.
She remains second in the world rankings behind Canada's Melissa Hollingsworth after five rounds of the World Cup and insists that she is in the form of her life.
The presence of Ella at the track, wrapped up against the freezing temperatures, as snow swirls around the mist-covered hills, is an important factor in Rudman's contentment as she juggles the roles of mother and world-class competitor.
'It was our decision to have Ella and still compete,' said 28-year-old Rudman from Pewsey, Wiltshire, but now based in Sheffield, 'We like to include her in as much as possible. I wouldn't like to do a season on the circuit and leave her at home.' Meticulous planning goes into ensuring that Rudman and Bromley, who is ranked No 9 in the world, can continue family life without disrupting the British team. Ella travels and stays in separate accommodation with her grandparents, Ray and Mavis Bromley, while her parents live alongside the rest of the squad and visit their daughter during free time.
'It works really well,' said Rudfirmly man. 'There are competitors from other countries with children. They all know Ella and help to look after her as well. Everyone is supportive. We keep her away when we have to focus on sport. But when that's over we go to her apartment and do Mum and Dad things with her.' Britain's skeleton bob performance director, Andi Schmid, believes that Rudman's 'baby break', during which she also had surgery to repair a persistent knee problem, has helped her become a better racer.
'There are other priorities in her life and she doesn't put herself under too much pressure,' said Schmid. 'Her strength is that she's very good at giving total concentration when she's racing.' After Ella was born, Rudman undertook a three-month rehabilitation programme designed to rebuild her strength slowly. 'During pregnancy your ligaments loosen and you have to be very careful with your pelvis because of the nature of our sport,' said Rudman. …