Performance Director proud of Sochi performances

Great Britain’s short track speed skaters might have lacked luck when it came to topping the podium at the recent Olympic Winter Games, but GB  Short Track Performance Director Stuart Horsepool is praising the skaters for outstanding personal performances while representing Team GB in Sochi.

“Even though we haven’t come back from Sochi with a medal, I couldn’t have asked for more from our athletes in terms how they approached the Olympics, and attacked each and every race with full commitment.”

Stuart Horsepool at Olympic team announcement
Image courtesy of Michael Poole

Jon Eley, Elise Christie, Jack Whelbourne, Charlotte Gilmartin and Richard Shoebridge, who competed in 12 races across three distances, over 5 days of short track competition, thrilled both the British public and GB Short Track coaching staff with their performances.

“It was incredible to see the squad skate to their potential on the world’s biggest sporting stage, and the support staff played a crucial role in their success. I’m very proud of the whole team and even though there is no medal to show for their efforts, there is no doubt that other victories will be taken from this Olympics”, said Horsepool.

History was made in Sochi when Jack Whelbourne became the first British skater to reach an Olympic 1500m final, while Elise Christie was the first British woman to compete in an Olympic final when she won her 500m semi-final against three Chinese skaters. Horsepool also praised the work GB Short Track support staff, saying:

“Our support staff do an incredible amount behind the scenes and they deserve a great deal of credit for the part they played in Sochi, particularly in getting Jack back to fitness when he injured his ankle in the 1500m final, and also helping Elise get back in the frame of mind to race, and race at her best, after her disqualifications and abuse on social media.”

Jack Whelbourne storming to 1500m final in Sochi
PA Images

Despite a turbulent time for Elise Christie, Horsepool added that the potential shown by Christie in Sochi bodes well for the entire team at the upcoming World Championships and beyond to Pyeongchang 2018.

“Elise showed exceptional form in Sochi and demonstrated to the world why she is one of the top competitors in short track. Watching her sit at the back of the pack and see her pick off opponents with such ease was a great moment for everyone at GB Short Track.

“We’ve all work very hard with her and the rest of the team to develop these skills, so to see them being used to such effect at an Olympics was a real reward. It just shows that the programme we have in place is capable of producing world class competitors, which is exciting for the future of the sport.”

Horsepool concluded: “I’d like to thank the British Olympic Association, as well as UK Sport and the National Lottery, because without their support, none of this would have been possible.”

The squad are straight back into training following their arrival back from Sochi on Tuesday, with just one days rest before beginning preparations for the upcoming World Championships in Montreal, 14-16 March, where they will be looking to finish the Olympic season in style.