There was medal success today (Saturday 14th January) on the ice for Great Britain’s Charlotte Gilmartin in the 500m final at the ISU Short Track Speed Skating European Championships.
She took the Bronze medal and GB’s first podium position of the Championships so far this year.
A squad of nine British athletes are in Torino, Italy at the 2006 Olympic venue for the annual Championships, taking place 13th - 15th January. The world class programme athletes in attendance alongside Gilmartin are, Kathryn Thomson, Jennifer Pickering and Hannah Morrison for the ladies, and Farrell Treacy, Joshua Cheetham, Billy Simms, Jack Burrows and Jonathan Moody for the men’s.
Elise Christie, reining overall European Championship has missed the event to focus on training for the World Championships in March.
Heats for all events took place yesterday, and the GB team qualified 10 out of the 12 events entered. For Jack Burrows, 19, the Men’s 5,000m Relay was his first race at an international senior competition and he reflected on his first day of the Championships: “The adrenaline was so intense in that race, it’s amazing to be here competing in my first major championships.” The men finished in second place behind the Netherlands and ahead of Belgium.
Today the men’s relay team, a newly formed team for these championships made up of Joshua Cheetham, Farrell Treacy, Jack Burrows and team captain Billy Simms, finished their semi final behind Hungary and the Netherlands, and beating Belarus. They will race again tomorrow in the B final against Belarus and Belgium. It’s been an opportunity for this team to gel and gain competition experience.
Team captain Charlotte Gilmartin, 26, overall silver medalist in 2016, and who qualified in three out of three of her individual events yesterday is feeling positive about the team’s progress overall saying: "I think the whole week build up has been really productive and to have young athletes at a major championships for the first time brings a new energy. The younger guys are showing real maturity, taking a major event in their stride. The team spirit and support is great to see.”
Despite missing out on a place in the A final of the 1500m event, the event which she came third in last year, Gilmartin went on to qualify for the 500 A final and take the Bronze with a time of 44.074.
There was a fall for local favourite and 1500m winner Arianna Fontana, and 1st and 2nd place went to De Vries of the Netherlands and Valcepina of Italy respectively. Charlotte went on to say: “It’s been a rollercoaster day, I felt like I improved in the 1500m from yesterday, but there is more to work on tactically and I know have more to give. I was getting speed at the end which gave me confidence. I’m pleased with the 8th overall.
“In the 500m, I gave it my all in every round, drawing on my training experience and the speed I was getting here already in the other distances. I’m happy with my moves, but still have work to do on my starts in this shorter distance. Its great to come away with the Bronze.”
Performance Director Stewart Laing, pleased with the event so far for the British team said:“The team have performed well today, we’ve had some good individual and team performances. Another personal best from Josh Cheetham in the 500m, and technical improvement in the Men’s relay, particularly in the changeovers allowing them to maintain speed.
“The team are responding well to a new coaching structure with Seung Jae Lee and Paul Worth. Charlotte’s medal today has consolidated an excellent week, we’re looking forward to more racing tomorrow.”
Coach Seung Jae Lee, former Olympian added: “It’s been a successful event so far for this young team, and good to see progress from Charlotte, her second individual European Championships medal, following her bronze last year, she’s showing real confidence.”
There will be opportunities tomorrow for both Charlotte Gilmartin and Farrell Treacy in the 1000m event, with both athletes through to the quarter finals.