Whelbourne races to Olympic final first for GB

Jack Whelbourne started his Olympic campaign with intention today, racing in the 1500m. Whelbourne advanced comfortably through the heats, setting a new British record in the process, before finishing 2nd in his semi-final and becoming the first Brit ever to reach the 1500m final at an Olympic Winter Games. 

Jack Whelbourne races in Sochi
PA Images

Unfortunately for Whelbourne his quest for medals was cut short in the closing stages of the final, when a block (used to mark out the track) was knocked under his blade, causing the Nottingham-born-skater to fall. He finished in the 7th place.

Whelbourne, 22, said: "I got involved with the racing and, when I made my move, a block went under my skate, I lost control and it's given me a bit of a twisted ankle. I don't know what's happening with my ankle now but I'm really pleased with my performance today, especially setting a new British record in the first round. I'm definitely getting back on the ice, if I can."

Nicky Gooch, Team GB short track speed skating coach, added: "He was in a good position, racing well and looking strong and he was trying to move himself up a little bit when a block got under his skate. It was out of his control."

Whelbourne is due back on the ice this Thursday (13th February) for the heats of the menís 1000m, along with Richard Shoebridge and Team GB Flagbearer Jon Eley.

Meanwhile, Britainís women also produced sterling performances in the heats of the 500m. Elise Christie and Charlotte Gilmartin both drew tough lanes, but still executed their races with precision to finish first and second in their respective heats, and proceed through to the quarterfinals on Thursday.

Elise Christie, 23 from Livingston, said: "When I saw the draw I was a bit upset, I knew it was going to be a challenge. It was always going to be tough and I had to work to get out in front. It was a good chance to work on everything I need."

"This is a good chance to warm up and work on those weaknesses in a competition environment because the 500m is not so important to me. I'm using this to build into the other two events. I had a lot more speed in me, I was being patient and just trying not to get knocked over. I've a lot more in the tank. It's been nice to get here and just get a feel for the environment."

Charlotte Gilmartin, 23 from Redditch, added: "It was a tough heat and it was a tough draw on the outside but I got the job done. I knew I had to do some overtaking and I've been practicing that in training and I've been working sure I've got that nailed. The pressure was on but I got the job done."

The team will next be competing this Thursday. The following times have been adjusted to GMT:

Thursday 13 February
10:00 - Ladiesí 500m quarterfinal
10:27 - Menís 1000m heats: Jon Eley, Jack Whelbourne, Richard Shoebridge
11:14 - Ladiesí 500m semifinal
12:07 Ė Ladiesí 500m final

For more details on GB Short Track and its athletes at Sochi 2014, please visit www.gbshorttrack.org/sochi2014

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