A Hertfordshire-born snowboarder is the favourite to bring home a gold medal for Team GB at the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

The winter games officially kicked off yesterday in China with an opening ceremony ahead of just over two weeks of jam-packed action.

Having secured a record five gold medals at each of the last two Winter Olympics, Team GB will be looking to break new boundaries.

And Hemel-Hempstead born Charlotte Bankes is being tipped as one of the participants likeliest to bring home gold.

The 26-year-old, who won gold at the World Championships in Sweden in 2021, competes in the high-octane discipline of snowboard-cross.

It's a competition in which four to six competitors race down a course which is typically quite narrow and includes various turns and jumps designed to challenge the rider's ability. It's so intense, it's not uncommon for racers to collide as they race down the mountain.

Bankes has performed at the Winter Olympics twice before but as a representative for France. After growing up in Harpenden, her family moved to France when she was aged four.

But after being blighted by injuries and growing frustrated with a reported lack of support within the French system, she jumped at the offer to switch allegiances to Great Britain in 2018.

Bankes has since become a snowboarding sensation and is the 5/4 favourite with betting experts OLBG to bring home a gold medal. Team GB are sending 50 athletes to Beijing to compete in this year's Olympics.

Speaking ahead of the competition, Bankes told Sportsbeat via the Team GB Olympic website: "This year has been going really well. I’ve had the best season I’ve ever had so I’m really happy with that – not just the results, but how I’m riding as well.

"I’m getting to the level on race day that I’m reaching in training, which is what we’ve been focusing on in the past couple of years.

"There’s always going to be a bit more pressure at an Olympics, everyone’s watching and it’s the only time in four years everyone sees our sport.

"That’s what brings on the pressure, that and trying to put on the best show for all those people watching, those who have got up early to watch back home.

"On the other hand, the race itself is the same as a World Cup – all the best girls will be there bringing their a-game. I’ll give my best on the day and won’t give up until I cross that finish line."

The snowboard cross competition is scheduled to take place on Wednesday February 9.