Five skaters selected for Sochi Olympics

The British Olympic Association (BOA) today announced that members of GB Short Track have been officially selected for Team GB for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

GB SHort Track's Sochi Olympians - Image Copyright Joe Morgan
Image copyright Joe Morgan

The selected athletes are:

Elise Christie (500m, 1000m, 1500m)
Jon Eley  (500m, 1000m)
Charlotte Gilmartin (500m, 1000m, 1500m)
Richard Shoebridge  (1000m)
Jack Whelbourne (500m, 1000m, 1500m)

Last month at the Turin and Kolomna World Cups the athletes, who all train at the National Performance Centre in Nottingham, raced successfully to secure quota places across all race distances in both male and female individual events. Christie, despite her heart-stopping crash in Kolomna, along with Whelbourne, 22, and Gilmartin, 23, are now set to compete at Sochi in all individual distances; 500m, 1000m and 1500m.

Crossing the line in the race for qualification - Image Copyright Joe Morgan 
Image copyright Joe Morgan 

Eley’s selection will make Sochi his third consecutive Olympic Winter Games, having competed at both Turin in 2006 and Vancouver in 2010. The 29-year-old will contend in two distances which will include his speciality, 500m, the event he placed 5th and 6th in respectively at the last two Winter Olympics. For Gilmartin, who is a European bronze medallist, and World Cup medallist Shoebridge, 28, this is their first selection for an Olympic Winter Games.

Jon commented: “Even though this will be my third Olympic Winter Games, it feels just as special to be selected to represent Team GB at Sochi. In some ways I’m more excited because I’m part of the strongest ever squad that Team GB has sent to a Winter Olympics and history could be made in Sochi.

“I’d like to thank everybody that has helped me get to this point, especially UK Sport and the National Lottery for all their support in not only getting me to Sochi, but throughout my whole career. I hope I can make Sochi my best Olympics yet.”

At Christie’s Olympic debut at Vancouver in 2010, she placed 11th, 20th and 19th in the 500m, 1000m and 1500m respectively, while Whelbourne placed 16th in the 1500m. Since then, the young duo have established themselves as Team GB’s highest ranked male and female short track skaters on the world circuit. Christie commented:

“I’m really proud to have been picked for my second Winter Olympics and I can’t wait to get out to Sochi and try to win medals for Team GB. I feel really lucky to have this opportunity and I’m so thankful to my team, support staff and everyone that has helped me get to where I am now.

“With the experience I’ve already gained from Vancouver 2010, I hope I can go to Sochi and do more than just take part this time. I want to compete for medals and I’m going to fight to be at the top of the pack.”

Christie’s accolades last season alone include a world number one ranking (1000m) following her multiple medals successes at the 2012/2013 World Cup series, as well as becoming the first British woman to win an individual World Championship medal. Former World Junior Champion Jack Whelbourne is the youngest member of the short track team for Sochi, but over the last two seasons the former European Champion has come into his own as a senior skater and has achieved a number of top 8 rankings at World Cups.

Mike Hay, Sochi 2014 Team GB Chef de Mission, commented: “I am pleased to welcome five short track skaters to Team GB today. The speed and unpredictability of short track makes it a thrilling sport to watch, but equally excruciating as anything can happen. We have a nice mix of youth and experience with Jon Eley attending his third Olympic Winter Games and others selected for their first. I am sure they will all make a significant contribution to Team GB in Sochi.”

The short track speed skating at Sochi takes place from the 10-21 February, a much longer period than other international short track events, giving Team GB the opportunity to compete for medals in multiple distances.

Short track was introduced as a full medal sport in 1992 and is one of the most exciting spectator sports at the Olympic Winter Games for its unpredictability, high-speeds and notoriously dramatic races.