The British Olympic Association (BOA) have announced today that five members of the GB Short Track Speed Skating squad will represent Team GB at the Olympic Winter Games 2018.
The following world class programme athletes who train full time at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham have been selected: Elise Christie (500m, 1000m, 1500m), Charlotte Gilmartin (500m, 1000m, 1500m), Kathryn Thomson (500m, 1000m, 1500m), Farrell Treacy (1000m) and Joshua Cheetham (1000m).
The Olympic Winter Games will take place from 9th - 25th February 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea. Short Track Speed Skating will take place in the Gangneung Arena at PyeongChang, a venue the British team are familiar with having competed there at the ISU World Cup last December. Elise Christie was able to dominate there in the 1000m beating home favourite Min Jeong Choi in front of a packed Korean crowd. Last month, the team were back in South Korea, where Elise ended the 2017/2018 ISU World Cup season with 500m gold, again ahead of Choi, this time in Seoul.
For Christie, who has been ranked world number one in the 2017/2018 World Cup series, it’s the third consecutive Games that she has qualified and been selected for. It will be a second Olympics for Charlotte Gilmartin, whilst for Thomson, Treacy and Cheetham it will be their debut. With the support of UK Sport and National Lottery funding as well as instrumental management changes, improvements in the organisation have enabled the team to progress as a whole and enable the younger skaters to progress to meet the qualifying standards.
Elise Christie, from Livingston who started her Short Track journey at Forth Valley Speed Skating Club, competed in all three of her event finals at the Sochi Olympics in 2014, and is aiming to convert finals into medals in 2018. Now 27 and at the peak of her career, Elise has not only become the 500m world record holder since the last Games, but also achieved a historic triple title win at the 2017 World Championships in Rotterdam, the first time a non-asian skater has won a title since 1994, and makes GB one of only six nations to win the ladies overall title ever. On selection for her third Olympic Games Elise said:
“It’s a great end to the World Cup season for me and a relief, after a tough season with injuries. I can't wait to get back out to Korea and compete again at the stadium in front of the crowds there who are amazing, and I'm really looking forward to being part of Team GB again after four years.”
Charlotte Gilmartin, 27, whose home club is Solihull Mohawks, has collected European and World Cup medals over the last year making significant year on year improvements since Sochi 2014, whilst 21 year old Kathryn Thomson, from Ayrshire Flyers, has consistently qualified for quarter and semi finals of World Cup events as well as improving personal bests. Team GB are therefore taking a full quota of British ladies competing in all individual distances at PyeongChang. Kathryn explained what selection means to her:
“It feels amazing and incredible to be selected. I'm so proud to be able to say I'll be representing Team GB at the Games. I am looking forward to being part of something so huge, with big crowds and support, I know it will be a great experience.”
There have been a number of changes in the men’s team since Sochi 2014, and the next generation of British male athletes including Joshua Cheetham, 25 from Nottingham Ice Racing Club, and Farrell Treacy, 22 from Solihull Mohawks, have been able to produce solid world level results and times to secure qualification places in the 1000m. Farrell said:
“It's a dream come true, it’s something I've always wanted since starting Short Track Speed Skating. It's been an aim for me to get to the Games particularly in the last four years since Sochi. There has been heartache and success along the way, so it feels amazing to be selected.”
Joshua added: “It feels surreal, I've wanted this from such a young age, and I'll be doing it for myself, my family as well as Great Britain. I feel a lot of pride, and responsibility to do my best and enjoy it. Short Track is the biggest sport in Korea, and they have such enthusiasm for it so I'm looking forward to seeing how they present it to the world.”
GB Short Track Speed Skating Performance Director Stewart Laing said:
“We have a really great group of athletes who have performed well this season to be selected for PyeongChang. We have a mix of experience through Elise and Charlotte who have been to Olympic Games previously, and first time Olympians Kathryn, Josh and Farrell.
“We're extremely excited to be fielding all women in all individual events which demonstrates the strength of our female programme and anticipate that the boys will be able to gain as much experience as possible with the aim of medalling in Beijing 2022.
“This team announcement is an accumulation of multiple years’ worth of work put in by the athletes and the coaches, but importantly recognising that all of these athletes started out in clubs around the country, either starting in figure skating and moving into Short Track or directly signing up with Short Track Speed Skating clubs. All of the sports and clubs should be immensely proud of the athletes selected for PyeongChang.
“We look forward to finishing our training preparations at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham before heading out to Seoul for our final pre Games preparation.”
Team GB Chef de Mission Mike Hay said:
“Short Track is going to be one the showpiece events at PyeongChang 2018, played out in a country with a huge passion for the sport. For our five athletes, competing in South Korea in February will be an incredible experience and just reward for their efforts to qualify and be selected to Team GB for the Winter Olympics.
“The team is a great mix of talent, experience and debutants and I’m sure the nation will be getting behind them as they bid to take on the world’s best next year.”
Notes to editors:
Team GB updates:
9th Feb - 25th Feb PyeongChang, Republic of Korea
GB Short Track Speed Skating:
GB Short Track Speed Skating website: www.gbshorttrack.org.uk