January 25 - Britain, whose team is set to include skeleton star Shelley Rudman (pictured), has been set a target of achieving its best performance at the Winter Olympics for more than 70 years by winning three medals at next month's Games by UK Sport, the Government agency who distribute National Lottery funding.

With less than three weeks to go before the opening ceremony in Vancouver, UK Sport revealed that £6.5 million had been invested across seven sports since the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.

If achieved, the three medals - at over £2 million per medal - would be Britain's most successful Winter Games since the 1936 Olympics in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which were opened by Adolf Hitler, when there was a gold in the ice hockey, silver in the figure skating and a bobsleigh bronze.

This year, the best medal prospects are in the women's skeleton and bobsleigh and men's curling.

There have also been good results in short track speed skating and women's curling.

UK Sport chief executive John Steele said: "The Games in Vancouver are going to be hugely competitive, and our overall medal target is without doubt challenging.

"However, the investments made over the past four years put the sports and athletes in an excellent position to deliver."

UK Sport’s main investment over the past four years has been in bob skeleton, who have received £2.1 million, looking to build on Rudman’s silver medal at the last Games in Turin – the only medal won by Britain.

The next biggest investment has been in curling, who have received £1.1 million - helping David Murdoch's team win the world title last year.

Short-track speed skating has received £964,000, bobsleigh £496,000, figure skating £496,000, skiing £372,000 and snowboarding £248,000 in the build-up to Vancouver, which is due to open on February 12.

Steele said: "We have a number of genuine world-class performers as highlighted by successes achieved in World Championships and World Cups over the past four years.

"The challenge now of course is to make it count at the Games - there are never any guarantees at this level, but I am confident our sports and athletes can succeed.''

Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe said: "We may not yet have the strength in winter sports that we displayed in Athens and Beijing at the Summer Olympics, but I am confident Vancouver can be an important step forward, delivering Britain's most successful performance for many decades.''