Emily- Lucine Phillips and Jayin Panesar are two young skaters who already know setbacks and hard-knocks all too well.
But the inspirational couple have persevered to become overall winners in the Advanced Novice Dance Competition in IJS Sheffield - an amazing feat to have even attended the event.
The determined skaters have battled through a series of injuries and glitches to show that success doesn’t come easy but, despite the odds, isn’t always out of reach.
The past eight months have been an incredible struggle for the team, who have both faced serious setbacks in their sport.
Difficulties began in November last year when Emily broke her ankle during training, just before the couple were set to fly out to Estonia to compete in the Tallin Trophy.
While Emily faced intensive recovery and rehabilitation, Jay, who lives with Osgood-Schlatter disease, began suffering with an ongoing knee problem.
Despite taking a break from training while Emily recovered from her ankle injury, Jay found himself experiencing intense pain in his knee, with no respite.
A visit to his physiotherapist diagnosed a torn meniscus, but resulting treatment still failed, so Jay was sent for an MRI scan.
By February this year the scan had revealed a broken piece of bone floating around in the knee joint, with surgery required to solve the problem.
By March Jay was back on the ice, only to be rushed off again for another emergency surgery when his appendix burst.
By May the pair had finally seemed to be back on track, with Emily’s ankle fully healed and Jay’s appendix removed and knee condition stable.
But the pair would experience yet another setback when Emily fractured her wrist during a routine lift – an injury which threatened to take away chances of competing at the 2017 IJS.
But when Jay began collapsing during exercise, the couple felt sure they wouldn’t make it to Sheffield in August.
NISA supported Jay to organise a visit to a cardiac unit, where a series of checks revealed that the young skater was fit, and could continue training with specific care and monitoring.
Reassured, and inspired by Olympic athletes Nick Buckland and Penny Coomes who had also been fighting through injury, Emily and Jay were determined to do all they could to make it to the IJS Sheffield in August.
In fact, it was support from Nick and Penny that gave the young skaters the boost they needed through what had been an incredibley tough year.
Jay said: “Throughout this entire period, Nick and Penny were very supportive towards Emily and myself.
“Penny herself was of course also recovering from a terrible knee injury, and she would call Emily to have a chat with her.
“As Emily’s partner, I felt she was so much cheered up after Penny’s reassurance, and we can’t thank her enough.
“I also met Nick by chance at the Bracknell rink as we were struggling through recovery – he was very kind and told me ‘everything was going to be alright.’
“We’d heard that phrase a lot, but it was extra special coming from him and it really lifted up my confidence and spirits.”
Like Nick and Penny, Emily and Jay would not only make it to the IJS Sheffield, but leave the competition triumphant having come out on top in their category.
The couple were overall winners out of two, with a total score of 47.46 and placing 1st in both pattern and free dances.
Emily and Jay are a shining example of how adversity and injury, which often come hand in hand with sport, can be the making of those who come out strong and fighting.
We want to give our huge congratulations to Emily and Jay, who’s experiences will surely inspire many other young athletes who find themselves struggling through tough times.
Edited from an original piece by Jenny Bill, UK News On Ice