The GB Short Track Academy officially launched at Ice Sheffield last Sunday, 29th January, and kicked off with plenty of inspiration, enthusiasm and teamwork.
Following a selection process through the Need4Speed recruitment campaign last year, which saw over 70 young athletes between 15-18 years old apply, 12 have made history by becoming the first ever members of the GB Short Track Academy. The young athletes from a mixture of ice disciplines and from across the UK, have been chosen based on talent as well as physical and mental suitability for their journey onto the world class programme which currently includes world record holder Elise Christie.
The Academy is a camp-based programme, and builds on the foundations provided by coaches and clubs, developing a culture of teamwork and excellence, through access to world class coaching and development of each individual’s programme.
The first camp in Sheffield was an opportunity for the athletes to come together for the first time, get to know their fellow skaters and coaching staff, and to find out what lies ahead. Several of the new Academy members gave their thoughts after the first camp. Ethan Treacy said of his first day on the Academy;
“It’s really exciting to be part of the Academy, be with a good group of other athletes and get to know each other. There is a great team spirit”.
Soloman Prempeh added,
“It’s feels incredible to be part of the Academy, it’s a step closer to my goals I am working on with my own coach and also my goal of being an Olympian. As Charlotte Gilmartin said to us, it’s all about building blocks and I’m ready to put in the work and build the blocks one after another to reach my goal”.
The academy includes athletes who have origins from other ice sports including Natasha Nemeth-Knight from a figure skating background, just as current Short Track world record holder Elise Christie did. Natasha said,
“It’s still quite surreal for me still that I have got through all the stages to get here. I’m excited about the future and am learning so much already”.
The full list of Academy members are; Peter Riches, Solomon Prempeh (Aldwych Speed Club), Kyle Ross-Waddell, Rose Happer, Isabelle Roberts, Talya Kaye (Nottingham Ice Racing Club), Ethan Treacy, Niall Treacy, Charlotte Hayward, Natasha Nemeth-Knight (Mohawks Ice Racing Club), Bradley Wills, Branden Marshall (Sheffield Speed Skating Club).
Peter Riches, 15 and Niall Treacy, 16,have today both been officially selected to represent Team GB at the upcoming Youth Olympic Festival in Turkey this February.
The GB Short Track Academy provides an opportunity for the athletes to prepare and progress from club level to the World Class programme, which currently includes 500m world cup ranked number one Elise Christie and 2017 European medallist Charlotte Gilmartin. The Academy is funded and supported by UK Sport (National Lottery and Exchequer Funding), the English Institute of Sport and the National Ice Skating Association.
The team leading the Academy are, Jon Eley (Manager), Jo Eley (Head Coach), Ravi Sehdeva (Physiotherapist), Richard Shoebridge (Coach) and Jon Marzetti (Psychologist). Jon Eley said after the launch day;
“The launch event was a great success and to see the excitement on these young athletes faces made all the hard work in planning the Academy truly worthwhile. We have a fantastic group of skaters and young people that will make this programme a successful one.”
The Need4Speed recruitment drive will be repeated later in the year, again targeting the 15 – 18 age group, and those who are already competent skaters.