CHEMMY ALCOTT has talked the talk but now she must walk the walk after insisting a maiden Winter Olympic medal is within her grasp.
The 27-year-old has been put through a rollercoaster of emotion, injury and funding problems since her last Olympic appearance in 2006 but is adamant the worst is behind her.
First Alcott suddenly lost her mother, Eve, shortly after pulling off the best result by a British female since the 1968 Grenoble Olympics by finishing 11th in the downhill in Turin.
Then, in April that year, she decided to undergo bunion surgery, eventually being ruled out for five months before suffering a broken ankle towards the end of 2008.
Just when she thought things could not get any worse the British Ski and Snowboard Federation entered administration last month leaving Alcott with a shortfall of £20,000 and without a coach just days before her third Games.
However, ever the optimist, Alcott, who also battled through illness while competing in Sweden in December, is adamant a podium finish is still a possibility in Canada. “If everything goes to plan on the day then I believe I will be in with a really good chance of winning in Canada,” said Alcott.
“I know I am strongest in the giant slalom and the super G but, saying that, I know I can pull out a result in the downhill as well. If I start skiing well in one discipline then that will feed off onto all the others and I believe I can be a threat in all of them.
“A lot has happened over the past four years and losing my mum was so unexpected and made me realise how lucky I am to be doing what I am doing and how short life can be.
“We have been struggling financially for a while and it is hard when politics get in the way. All I want to do is go out there and ski on my limit and push as hard as I can.”
Alcott is never far from drama and on her Olympic debut in 2002 she had her plane ticket stolen on a connecting flight at Boston Airport before being involved in a minor car accident in Salt Lake City.
The Twickenham-born skier put that to one side to finish 14th in the super combined in America but stuttered thereafter, securing just five top 10 World Cup finishes since January 2004.
Alcott will kick-start her third Olympics at Whistler Creekside in the super combined on 16 February before moving onto the downhill a day later and then the super G, the giant slalom and slalom respectively.
The British No1’s turbulent past has seen many write off her chances in Canada and, while expressing sympathy with their views, Alcott has vowed to prove that she is more than just a pretty face.
“I’m going completely as an outsider, but still I’ve got a massive amount of self-belief,” she added. “All I can do is make sure my preparation, my mental strength and everything else peaks for that time.”
Lloyds TSB, proud partner of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and supporter of Team GB to Vancouver 2010.