Rocky gran Steeled for Turin excitement

ROCKHAMPTON'S Dorothy Macoun is more than ready to watch her granddaughter Michelle Steele fly head-first down an ice track at 300kmh next week.

Steele, a former beach flags surf lifesaving champion from Bundaberg, will become Australia's first ever Winter Olympics skeleton representative when she hits the track in Turin at 2.30am (AEST) next Friday.

However, Macoun will first be watching tonight's opening ceremony.

"She said she'd wave for us,'' Macoun said.

Macoun admits she never thought her family could boast a Winter Olympian, but could not be more proud.

Speaking to her daughter on Thursday night Macoun said Steele was excited and looking forward to the event.

"She told me she's 'just going to race','' Macoun said. "I'm just thrilled with what she's done.''

Macoun has never been in the snow herself and has watched Steele race just the once, when her nephew sent over a videotape from Britain.

"I just thought, I hope she gets to the bottom.

"She's been pretty lucky, only once she landed on her face and couldn't eat.''

It has been a whirlwind ride for 19-year-old Steele. Growing up in Bundaberg her life was on the beach, where she excelled in beach flags, and she also gained a Level 9 in gymnastics.

Then only about 15 months ago the University of Queensland student, who is studying occupational therapy, was one of 80 athletes who nominated for an AIS (Australian Institute of Sport) program for potential skeleton competitors.

They were looking for people who could sprint fast over 30 metres.

Steele was one of 10 athletes selected, then she joined the top five, then the top four and finally the top three.

The final three were all from surf lifesaving backgrounds and Steele clocked the fastest time to book the sole berth for Australia's Olympic Games team.

Steele's parents Janet, a former Frenchville State School and North Rockhampton State High School student, and Bruce Steele are in Turin.

"Janet rang a week ago and said she'd watched her race, but everything was so quick you don't see anything,'' Macoun said.

Macoun has always loved watching the Winter Olympics ? now she has some extra incentive.

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