World record breaker and Olympian Richard Shoebridge has announced his retirement from the GB Short Track Speed Skating world class performance programme.
Part of the world record breaking men’s relay team in 2011, Richard has decided it’s time to hang up his boots aged 31, however he will remain involved in the development side of GB Short Track Speed Skating.
Richard said: “It’s been a very tough decision to step away from the sport I love as an athlete, but I have a lot of great memories to cherish. I am at a stage in my life where I am ready to look ahead to the future and spend more time with my family. I will take the skills and knowledge I have gained over many years as an athlete onto the next phase of my journey with Short Track.”
Born in South Africa, Richard moved to Canada as a child. He was a member of the Canadian national team for four years before moving to Britain, in 2010. With joint British and Canadian citizenship, Richard was able to continue his development with the Great Britain squad in Nottingham. Short track was in the family, Richard’s Dad and sister also competed at a high level.
Richard immediately had a significant impact within the GB team, and together with Jon Eley, Paul Stanley and Jack Whelbourne, shattered the 5000m relay world record by over two tenths of a second at the end of the 2010/11 season, with a time of six minutes, 37.877 seconds.
Reflecting on the highlights of his career he said: “The most memorable moment for me was when I walked out of the tunnel at the 2014 opening ceremony of the winter Olympics in Sochi , right then a childhood dream was realised. Although I didn't get the result I wanted, it was an incredible honour to be able to compete.
“That year we came away with a bronze medal in the relay at the world championships, the very same team that broke the world record a few years earlier at the world cup in Germany. Those are memories I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.”
Richard gave thanks to those who have helped him throughout his career, he said: “I will forever love this sport, it’s been such an important part of my life. I have to thank my family who have supported me throughout my life and career.
“I’ve had some great coaches, and those from my early years shaped me and installed really important values. I’m still friends with Ernie, my first club coach.
“The funding we receive through UK Sport and the National Lottery is so instrumental to the development of the GB skaters, it’s been an incredible opportunity to be able to do it full time and solely concentrate on the sport so I am thankful for that.”
A popular and charismatic teammate, ‘Shoei’ is the last of the world record breaking men’s relay team to retire, making way for the next generation to come through: “I think our sport is in a really good place, the women are doing really well, particularly Elise Christie and Charlotte Gilmartin, as well as Kathryn Thomson also coming through. The men have work to do, they are in a developmental phase now as a young team, but have loads of potential and a great work ethic.”
GB Short Track Speed Skating are pleased to confirm that Richard has accepted a position as the Transitional Coach on the newly formed GB Short Track Academy, which will officially launch at the end of January.
12 young athletes have become the first members of the Academy, out of 70 applications, following a rigorous selection process. The Academy will develop a culture of teamwork and excellence, through access to world class coaching and development of each individual’s programme.
“I am really excited to be working with the Academy athletes and those who will be transitioning from there onto the World Class Programme. It’s an important role in ensuring the move across is as seamless as possible, so the athletes are fully prepared and can train straight away when the time comes. I’m also looking forward to travelling and leading the young teams to some of the junior international events. The future vision will be to expand the programme. For us to improve our pathway programme can only make the sport stronger”.
The team leading the Academy are, Jon Eley (Manager), Jo Eley (Head Coach), Ravi Sehdeva (Physiotherapist), Richard Shoebridge (Transition Coach) and Jon Marzetti (Psychologist).
Jon Eley, GB Short Track Speed Skating Academy Manager and former teammate said: “Shoei has always been a role model for the team throughout his time on the programme. As consistent roommates, he also played an important part in my career.
“It was a privilege to skate on the same team together, during which time we broke the World Record, won medals at European and World Championships and in 2014, competed at the Olympic Games. Shoei’s energy, positivity and experience will be missed in the team, but I am over the moon that we will be back working together, as he takes a coaching role with the new Academy. His invaluable expertise and enthusiasm will have a huge benefit to the next generation.”
Performance Director Stewart Laing added: “Richard has achieved a lot throughout his career as an athlete with in the GB Short Track Speed Skating Programme, and joined the elite few that are able to call themselves as Olympians and represent the country at the highest level.
“I am delighted that Richard will remain with the Programme and work with the next generation of athletes who are aiming to follow in his footsteps. Richard is a great ambassador for the sport, with a great attitude, work ethic and coaching style; it's clear he’s a great addition to the academy team.”