REDDITCH’S short track speed skaters Charlotte Gilmartin and Antony Madkins both performed impressively at the weekend’s (May 25/26) British Speed Skating Championships at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham.
Twenty-four-year-old Gilmartin – the 2013 European Championship 1,500m bronze medallist – finished second behind 2014 World Championship 500m silver medallist Elise Christie as current members of the Great Britain Short Track squad competed amongst themselves and skaters from across the UK to claim the British title.
Scotland’s Christie finished top in the senior ladies classification, closely followed by team-mate Gilmartin who was second and Nottingham’s Gemma Cooper in third.
In the men’s event Gilmartin’s and Madkins’ Solihull Mohawks team-mate Jon Eley won the title, ahead of his Great Britain team-mates Richard Shoebridge (Mohawks) and Josh Cheetham who were second and third respectively.
On the junior front, ten-year-old Madkins performed exceptionally well as he finished seventh overall in the Junior E category – which had 14 competitors – just weeks after achieving the medal test time to compete at the event.
Madkins would have finished sixth had it not been for a fall in the 333m heat. He ended ninth in that category, sixth in the 222m and eighth in the 500m standings.
Madkins reached the B finals in both the 222m and 500m events, which was a great achievement in such a short space of time, and best of all he shaved 2.76 seconds off his personal best time at 333m and 3.68 seconds off his personal best time at 222m.
His father Phil said: “Antony is really pleased with his results, achieving a much better overall position than he could ever have hoped for, and is already looking forward to competing at next year’s British Championships.
“The fact that he is only ten years of age means he will be able to compete in the same category next year and, with the experience he has gained from this competition and another 12 months of hard training under his belt, he is hoping this will see him get a position on the podium.”
Stuart Horsepool, Performance Director for the senior squad, said: “It was good for the squad to get back on the ice to compete. The British Championships usually take place in January, but it was postponed this year to ensure it didn’t coincide with the Sochi Winter Olympics and the timing has been ideal for us as it has enabled the athletes to get back into competing after a short break from the ice.
“The nature of short track means you have to be sharp when you race, so these competitions are critical for Jon (Eley), Elise (Christie) and the rest of the squad to perfect their technique.
“I’m pleased with how the squad performed and we’re now looking forward to training hard on the ice as we build up to the 2014/15 season. The true value of this competition is not the titles the athletes have won here, but the race practice they and the squad now take forward with them.”
Elsewhere in the junior events, another Mohawk Farrell Treacy took top spot in a very competitive 500m race, whilst Kathryn Thomson raced well to finish first in the junior ladies event.
The championships culminated in a presentation to Eley in recognition of his team captain and flagbearer duties at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games.
Three skaters – Jack Whelbourne, Eley and Christie – were also awarded with Diplomas for their finishing positions in their respective races in Sochi.
The team are now awaiting news of the UK Sport funding for the next four-year cycle, which will conclude with the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea. This announcement is expected later this summer.