MOTIVATION levels will be higher than ever in the British Skeleton camp for the concluding seven rounds of the World Cup, according to Wiltshire-based Olympic bronze medalist Laura Deas.

Deas, who lives in Chippenham, was forced to pull out of the World Cup’s first round in Sigulda, Latvia, earlier this month due to illness.

However, she recovered quickly to finish seventh in Winterberg, Germany, to move up to 17th in the overall standings – despite missing one of the two opening rounds.

Following the announcement of Lizzy Yarnold’s retirement from the sport last month, Deas is now Great Britain’s most senior squad member – despite only taking to the track less than a decade ago as a motivated and determined 21-year-old.

Such is her rise through not only the country’s skeleton ranks, but also the world’s, Deas still has to pinch herself when reflecting on her senior position in the sport.

That did not prove a deterrent in her preparation for this season’s World Cup, though, as she admits competition off the back of a successful Olympic campaign will be stronger than ever.

“Every time that there’s a new Olympic cycle, we see new athletes come through and new coaches," said Deas, who won bronze in Pyeongchang, South Korea, earlier this year.

“Everyone is really motivated because they’ve either been to the Olympics or they’ve missed out and want to be taking part in another four years.

“We all push each other, some people might view it as a negative – but it’s been a huge part of British Skeleton’s success over the years.

“We’ve always had to compete against ourselves to even represent our country at the World Cup, and so many positives come from that.”

Following a gruelling eight-round World Cup campaign, Deas will jet west to Whistler, Canada, for the season-ending World Championships.

Hosted on the fastest track in the world, Deas hopes to peak at the championships in mid-February.

She added: “Whistler is a really interesting track, the fastest in the world.

“It’s where I’ve had some of my better World Cup results – so I am looking forward to going there.

“Off the back of a successful Olympics I’m looking to push on now and regularly medal in the World Cup or at minimum be in the top six.”

Competition in the GB camp is never far behind though, and 30-year-old Deas believes some of skeleton’s leading countries – including Germany, Canada, Russia and America – will continue to be surprised by the depth of Great Britain’s squad.

“Jerry Rice was 10th at the Olympics, and he’s still very much on the up,” said Deas.

“I’m looking forward to seeing more from him this year.

“Jack Thomas has competed in a few World Cups, he’s looking to improve and I’m sure he will.

“Marcus Wyatt made his World Cup debut earlier this month too, and I know he’s very talented and motivated just like Madelaine (Smith) and Kim (Murray) are.

“They all want to show themselves off on the world stage, I think they will be competitive and probably shock a few countries.”