Charlotte Gilmartin, 28, has announced her retirement from GB Short Track Speed Skating after 13 years on the national team.
2018 British Champion Charlotte, from Redditch, was talent spotted aged 12 at an ice skating birthday party. Already a competent roller hockey player, Charlotte’s speed and confidence on the ice was noticed and she was invited to a trial at her local club, the Solihull Mohawks.
“I just instantly felt at home within the club. My first coach, Caron New (a former GB skater), was an inspiration, and her passion brought the sport alive for me. I’ve always been super competitive and within three years I made the national team.”
By 17, Charlotte’s hard work with the GB team based at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham began to pay off and guided by then development coach Nicky Gooch, she started winning competitions on the European Star Class circuit. In 2012 Charlotte began working one to one with Seung Jae Lee, a former Korean Olympic Skater who had been brought into the GB Short Track coaching team.
“SJ had a big influence on me and has been fantastic to work with. He really built up my self-belief and along with his great technical and tactical coaching we started to create a winning formula. He taught me how to be patient and keep building up to those goals one step at a time.”
Aged 23, Charlotte qualified to represent Great Britain at her first Olympic Games, Sochi 2014, alongside teammate and friend Elise Christie, and subsequently went on to make her mark in major international competitions.
Article courtesy of Sandy Drummond, GB Short Track.
During the 2015-16 season, Charlotte won a 1500m bronze medal at the World Cup in Shanghai before being crowned silver overall medallist at the European Championships. There was further World Cup medal success in the next two years. Not only focused on her individual events, Charlotte has also played a key role within the Ladies relay team, leading them to a British record time in 2016.
“I feel incredibly proud to have been able to represent my country and stay at the top of my sport for many years. Winning my first World Cup medal was a highlight for me. I vividly remember the final three laps trying to hold off the Chinese skater, giving everything I had, then automatically glancing at SJ for approval. It was the final confirmation that I had made it to be one of the best in the world. I skated over to my teammates who were jumping over the barrier and high fiving. I couldn’t have done it without them, from the weekly grind of pushing each other to hit targets, to the sense of home on tour. It would have been really special to qualify the ladies relay team for the Olympics as we worked so hard together, but it wasn’t meant to be.”
Charlotte qualified for her second Olympics, PyeongChang, aged 27 but fell in the 1500m semi-final meaning she was unable to fulfil her Olympic medal ambitions.
“I was really confident going into my final season with medals behind me and feeling stronger than ever, however this began to unravel with cracking my coccyx in the first warm up competition of the season. Then an injury to the labrum of my hip in the final Olympic qualifier disrupted my preparation even more. These things are unfortunately a part of sport, but I was determined that I would walk away happy knowing I had given all I had, and I was not able to control if that was going to be enough”.
“Now is the right time for me to retire, I’ve finished on a high winning the British Championships and I am looking forward to this next chapter in my life. I definitely want to stay close to the sport I love, it’s given me so many opportunities, skills and enjoyment. I hope to see the sport continue to grow, and more young girls getting involved. Both Elise Christie and Kat Thomson are fantastic role models for the sport. I will enjoy watching closely from the barrier from now on.”
“I’d like to thank all the GB Short Track team and staff for helping me to reach my potential. As well as my family and friends, particularly my husband and former GB skater Ian, who have all been the greatest supporters, you guys have been so patient and understanding with my journey as an athlete - I am looking forward to being able to make all the life events without having to face time in!”
“UK Sport and the National Lottery funding has allowed me to compete at the top of my sport and I would not have been able to achieve what I have without it. I will be forever grateful.”
GB Short Track Speed Skating Performance Director Stewart Laing said,
“Charlotte has been an absolute pleasure to work with in my time as Performance Director. She is a fantastic athlete with high standards and a really great work ethic. She has been an ambassador for Short Track Speed Skating over the years, representing the country at multiple senior international events including two Olympic Games. Charlotte has seen success on the world stage during her time at GB Short Track and I am sure she will take all of the leanings from her time on the world class programme and those experiences into her future and we wish her all the best in her new journey ahead.”
GB Short Track senior coach Nicky Gooch said,
“It was a privilege to coach Charlotte when she first joined the team, and I am proud to have seen her develop as a skater, person, team player and leader over the 13 years, and winning many international medals. She has always given 100% and has been a great role model for the other athletes on the team. I wish her all the success for the future and am confident she will be a fantastic asset in anything she chooses to do”.
Article courtesy of Sandy Drummond, GB Short Track.