Ellia Smeding named as 50th and final Team GB athlete for Winter Olympics

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<span>Photograph: Peter de Jong/AP</span>
Photograph: Peter de Jong/AP
  • Chef de mission Georgina Harland hails “exciting new chapter”

  • Team GB aiming to win three to seven medals in Beijing


Britain will send a team of 50 athletes to the Winter Olympics that will be more competitive in more disciplines than ever before, Team GB’s chef de mission has predicted.

Georgina Harland said athletes were ready to write a new chapter in the country’s history and challenge established alpine countries in the pursuit of a record Winter Games haul in Beijing.

Related: Dave Ryding makes British skiing history with first Alpine World Cup win

Harland said: “We are delighted to welcome the 50 athletes who will make up the team at Beijing 2022 and feel these athletes have the opportunity to not only challenge established winter nations but compete with the success we enjoyed at both Sochi and Pyeongchang.”

“This is an exciting new chapter for British winter sport with a number of new names for the British public to enjoy and get behind and with athletes who have experienced four Olympic Winter Games, they will undoubtedly be a great support to the emerging talent.

Team GB’s record medal success at a Winter Olympics is five, achieved in Sochi and Pyeongchang, however the hope among insiders is that they will be at the top end of their three to seven medal target for Beijing.

“It promises to be a fantastic Olympics and Team GB will go into the Beijing Games as one of the best prepared teams and one that will be competitive across more disciplines than ever before,” added Harland.

On Monday the British Olympic Association announced its 50th and final athlete for the Games, the speed skater Ellia Smeding, who will compete in the 1,000m and 1500m in Beijing.

The 23-year-old will join her partner, Cornelius Kersten, as the first British long-track speed skaters to compete at an Olympics for 30 years, after she set national records in the 500m, 1,000m and 1500m last month.

The Team GB squad includes three returning bronze medallists – Izzy Atkin in slopestyle, Laura Deas in skeleton and Eve Muirhead in curling.

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There are also high hopes for a strong team that includes alpine skier Dave Ryding, who won his first World Cup race on Saturday and world champion snowboarder Charlotte Bankes.

The athletes will be departing the UK over the next 10 days. The competition starts on 2 February with the mixed curling, two days before the opening ceremony on 4 February.

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