To the residents of Bath: An apology. It is not unknown for the British Olympic gold medallist, Lizzy Yarnold, to stand in the middle of The Circus, famous for its Georgian architecture, and shout as loudly as she can. “Not rude words,” she adds, hastily. Apparently, “Bath bun!” at top volume is a particular favourite.

“If you stand right in the middle of The Circus and yell, you get this wonderful echo," she explains. "It’s been perfectly designed for it. I’ve done it a few times. The residents don’t really like it.”

This is a whole new Yarnold to the one we witnessed on Valentine’s Day 2014, the day of her destiny in the final of the Olympic skeleton competition in Sochi. Everything she had done for the past five years had come down to that day. “Extremely obsessive” is how she describes her planning and, in her final head-first descent down the ice chute at speeds touching 80mph, all the plotting paid off. Instantly, she was reborn ‘the Snow Queen’.

Lizzy Yarnold has returned to training ahead of the new Skeleton World Cup season

Yarnold is nominated for the BT Sport Action Woman of the Year Award

“For five years it was all about 14 February 2014. Now it’s odd. I feel very free of having to prove myself,” says Yarnold. “I feel I can just explore being a different kind of athlete. Not one who has just one date in her mind. I feel a bit more of a wholesome person. It’s not just about skeleton sliding, it’s about trying to improve all round as a person.”

The major beneficiary of this “improvement” is her boyfriend, James Roche, the engineer and former British sailor, who co-designed her sled and who now works alongside Ben Ainslie on his quest for the America’s Cup. Needless to say, the Yarnold/Roche approach to life in the flat they share in Bath is pretty organised.

“He’s very strong-willed and I don’t think he listens when I’m being bossy," she chuckles. "I Skyped him when I was away the other day and said: ‘Have you done the hoovering?’ His answer was: ‘You didn’t put it on the list’. We work very well together. He’s meticulous and also expects a lot from himself, so we understand each other.

“We don’t have OCD. He certainly doesn’t in terms of laundry. But I do believe that everything has a home. If you get the scissors out, they go back in the drawer. That’s just efficient living, not OCD. But I must admit that if I go past a wall with a plug socket switched on and no plug attached, I HAVE to switch it off. I don’t know if that’s because I find it irritating or I’m worried the electricity might escape.

“But I wouldn’t say I’m eccentric at all. My skeleton life is extreme and adrenalin-packed, but my life outside sport is very normal.”

She calls her family, the Yarnolds, “loud and proud”. They were certainly in evidence in Sochi, including her parents, elder sister Charlotte and younger sister Katy, when she won the gold medal with a dominant performance: four super slides, four wins.

I always wanted to be in control of everything I was doing."

Lizzy Yarnold

“But it used to infuriate me that all Mum and Dad wanted to talk about in the time leading up to Sochi was skeleton,” says Yarnold.

“I felt it was all about ‘Lizzy’. I was sat there with two other sisters and there wasn’t that same enthusiasm for them. I felt bad and guilty about them. It wasn’t until about two years ago my younger sister said: ‘I don’t care if we talk about skeleton because there’s no way I’m going to do what you do. I respect you for doing it but I wouldn’t want to do all the hard work.’ So I lost the guilt about us being different people. Now both sisters have got really great jobs and it’s not just about Sochi anymore.”

She believes that being the middle of three sisters was a formative sporting experience growing up on her parents’ farm in Kent. “When I think back to the games we used to play there as sisters, I wasn’t the best," she reveals. "I wasn’t the eldest, I wasn’t the biggest. So I had to work out - how am I going to trick my sisters and how am I going to learn to be better at sports? It had a huge implication. It drove me on to be better.

Desperation to succeed

“I certainly had the personality of an individual team sport athlete. I wasn’t really interested in being part of a team because they could let you down or make a mistake, which would have infuriated me! I always wanted to be in control of everything I was doing.

“I don’t think I’d be furious on the outside. Just inside. It was this desperation to succeed.”

The desperation has been satisfied by the gold medal in her possession but she is currently training as hard as ever in Winterburg, Germany, for the coming skeleton season. She is favourite to rule the world again.

To see the rest of the BT Sport Action Woman of the Year nominees, click here.