The next generation of speed skaters impress at European Youth Olympic Winter Festival

The European Youth Olympic Winter Festival (EYOWF) began in Brasov (Romania) on Sunday 17 February. The short track speed skating took place on the first three days on competition and Britainís next generation of speed skaters produced a number of personal bests and a silver medal courtesy of Kathryn Thomson (17).

Thomson, who is originally from Kilmarnock, won silver in the 500m on Monday just behind Sofia Prosvirnova (RUS), and yesterday won the B final of the 1000m, to finish fifth overall. She said: ďItís been a great experience representing Great Britain in the EYOWF. Iíve really enjoyed it and Iím pleased to come away with personal best times and a silver medal.Ē

Mari Deland (16), Jack Burrows (15) and Aydin Djemal (16) were also in action in Brasov. Deland, who trains with Thomson, reached the 1500m final, finishing sixth overall, while Burrows and Djemal both reached the semi-final of the 1500m. GB Short Track Talent ID Coach Paul Worth said:

ďIím really pleased with all four athletes; each of them skated well and produced some good performances. Three out of the four skaters broke personal best times and Kat stepped up to win her silver medal which is excellent. The experience they have all gained will be invaluable for the future and for their development.Ē

At the start of next season Jack Burrows and Aydin Djemal will begin training full-time with the GB Short Track National Squad, which is based at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham, after they achieved the qualifying times this season.

Stuart Horsepool, the Performance Director of GB Short Track said: ďJack and Aydin are both very talented skaters and we are looking forward to having them join us in August. Itís great to see the next generation of skaters stepping up, in particular Kat with her silver medal, but more importantly this week will have given them some invaluable experience which is vital for their development.Ē

Following his performance at the EYOWF, Djemal said: Aydin: ďIíve had a really good time and gained lots of experience racing the best boys in Europe. Iím happy with the way I performed and learned some valuable lessons that will hopefully take me to the next level.Ē

Thomson and Deland achieved their qualification times for the National Squad last season. The decision to move away from home and train full time in Nottingham was a big step for the teenagers, especially for Deland for whom home is Queensland, Australia. After the EYOWF, Deland said: ďIíve really enjoyed the experience of being part of a multisport event. I was pleased to break my 500m personal best time and make the top six in the 1500.Ē

On 15-17 March junior members of the GB Short Track squad will travel to Baselga for the final of the Star Class Cup, the Junior Europa Cup Final. Jack Burrows and Kathryn Thomson have qualified for the event, and Talent ID Coach Paul Worth added: ďThey have performed well here so this will be a good confidence builder for them going into the final in three and a half weeks.Ē