CHARLOTTE Gilmartin says she is in the ‘form of her life’ having maintained her excellent momentum at the weekend’s British Short Track Speed Skating Championships at Nottingham Ice Centre.
Gilmartin, fresh from winning her first World Cup medal in the 1,500m A final in Shanghai, was right on the tail of Great Britain’s women’s number one Elise Christie in finishing second behind the Scot in all three distances – 500m, 1,000m and 1,500m – to finish second in the overall senior ladies classification.
The racing continues to come thick and fast for the 25-year-old from Redditch, who represents Solihull’s Mohawks Ice Racing Club, as she this weekend competes in Nottingham Ice Centre’s International Skating Union Star Class event.
Then comes a return to the venue of the 2014 Winter Olympics when Gilmartin and her GB team-mates visit Sochi in Russia for the European Championships (January 22-24) and the former Arrow Vale High School pupil is hopeful of challenging for medals as she looks to match or the better the bronze she secured in the 1,500m at the 2013 Euros in Malmo, Sweden.
“I really feel like I’m making steps forward with each race now. It was huge for me to win that first World Cup medal and I was pleased with my performances in the British Championships which followed,” Gilmartin told the Standard.
“The key really is that I’ve been injury-free for some time now after some bad luck in that respect in the past and this is really helping me to increase my strength and build my confidence.
“Obviously as a speed skater I am always looking to work on racing techniques but it’s been more than that which has helped me lately. I’m in a good place mentally – being open-minded and positive – and I just felt there was a good chance I could win that first World Cup medal in Shanghai.
“I won my quarter-final impressively and took a lot of confidence from that and was able to carry the momentum all the way through to the final.
“It’s ironic really. My two big individual medal wins have both been in the longer 1,500m race but my favoured event is the 500m as I see sprinting as my main weapon.”
Her performances in Nottingham in testing Christie – the first Briton to win two medals at a World Championships – to the limit have further encouraged Gilmartin, who added: “I am in the best form of my life, feeling strong and positive, and am just keen to keep improving
“I tried various tactics to try and get one over on Elise in the British Championships, such as moving to the front, but she was still too strong and managed to pass me, then sometimes you may sit back and wait to attack.
“As I say, it’s about continuing to learn and, as always, hoping luck is on your side. I would consider the 500m to be my best chance of a medal in Sochi but, as I’ve seen already, it doesn’t always pan out that way.”
On a wider scale, Gilmartin is also relishing this weekend’s Star Class event in Nottingham, which will see 5,000 youngsters in attendance in the hope of ‘inspiring the next generation’.
“I am really looking forward to being on our home ice again. It’s always fantastic to know you’ve got the backing of family and friends in the crowd which of course you rarely have abroad,” said Gilmartin.
“It’s a big occasion to have an international event coming to Nottingham and the British skaters are all keen to put on a good show because we would love to see World Cups, European and World Championships brought to Britain on a regular basis.
“Speed skating is a fascinating sport to watch and tickets are very cheap, so I’d encourage people to come and have a look at such a top event on home ice.”
Tickets are priced at £5.60 each. A family ticket is priced at £13.44 (includes admin fee). Visit www.motorpointarenanottingham.com/Online/ for details.