Dark horses Coomes and Buckland ready to put themselves in the mix

Dark horses Coomes and Buckland ready to put themselves in the mix

18 February 2018 / 18:30

Dismiss Nick Buckland and Penny Coomes' medal chances at your peril – the British figure skaters are ready to use the underdog tag to their advantage in PyeongChang.

From the outside, the Michigan-based duo's preparations for these Games have been far from ideal – from Coomes smashing her knee into several pieces following a training accident in June 2016 to failing to hit top gear at last month's European Championships.

But the trials and tribulations of the second half of this Olympic cycle are not isolated occurrences for Buckland Coomes – in fact their ability to overcome adversity have become as much a part of their career narrative as have their successes. 

There was the life-saving heart surgery for Buckland in the run up to Sochi 2014 and the bout of pneumonia for Coomes that meant they missed the 2015 World Championships.

And that's before examining in more detail the smashed kneecap which forced Coomes into three months of bed rest and two operations.

But Buckland, who's biggest international medal to date is the bronze won at the 2014 European Championships, believes it can still be a case of third-time lucky when they make it a hat-trick of Games appearances in South Korea.

“I see ourselves as dark horses coming into this. I think we're a lot stronger than we were going into Sochi despite the Euro bronze medal,” said Buckland, who has a previous Games best of tenth from four years ago.

“We made mistakes at the Euros and there's a lot of points we left on the board, so I feel like we can actually go and get our best ever result in Pyeongchang. 

“From the bronze medal up to 12th place is wide open. The French and Canadians are extremely strong and it looks like they're going to be fighting it out for gold and silver. But the bronze medal is wide open.”

Buckland and Coomes could only manage a seventh place at the 2018 European Championships, failing to build upon the personal-best score from last September's victorious Nebelhorn Trophy which secured their Olympic qualification.

However, they have been working closely with Christopher Dean, who along with Jayne Torvill, famously won Olympic gold to Bolero at Sarajevo 1984 and then bronze at Lillehammer 1994.

And ahead of their opening short dance on Monday, Coomes revealed her intention their story can help inspire others. 

“We've worked very hard we've given a lot of our lives into this sport but I wouldn't have it any other way,” she said.

“I want to be an inspiration and that's something that's really driven me. 

“For me it's really important to be a good role model for young athletes and people going through a hard time.”

A podium finish would undoubtedly help strengthen their case too.

Sportsbeat 2018