Brotherly love as Treacys book place on Beijing start line

The first time the Treacy brothers lined up alongside one another on the international stage, they ended up taking each other out. The hope is that the next time they're on a start line together will be in an Olympic final.

Four years after Farrell Treacy became the first member of the clan to represent Team GB on the biggest stage, his little brother Niall will be joining him, with both named as part of a three-strong short track speed skating squad for February's Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.

The pair, whose brother Ethan is also an international short track skater, will both be competing in the 1000m, having only previously raced directly against each other at one World Cup event - in Japan in October.

On that occasion, a crash looked to have hurt their chances of Olympic qualification, but with the duo now both confirmed as part of the Beijing contingent, Farrell is hoping it will be better luck if there is a second meeting.

He said: “It’s an incredible achievement for the whole family, we’re really excited about it. It’s going to be special seeing two Treacys on the start list.

“But the last time we raced together in the ranking final, he wiped me out. So we’ll see how we go this time!

“He hit a block and went down and took me out. So, it didn’t work out from the point of view where we were trying to get as many ranking points as we could.

“The way the draw is done, they normally keep countries apart so it would only be if we get to finals or semi-finals that we could meet. If we’re there, that would be a fantastic achievement and would be incredible.”

The nerves will inevitably be greater for Niall, on his Olympic debut, but no-one feels the tension more than mum Catherine, when the boys are on the ice.

Farrell, who will also race in the 1500m explained: “My mum has always said that she doesn’t like watching any of us race, but definitely when we’re racing together, it’s only a recent thing, she doesn’t like it at all.”

Niall added: “My mum hates watching us race normally, let alone when we’re racing each other, because she thinks there’s too much drama and she gets too nervous. But she can’t stand the thought of us racing each other. She despises it.”

For the elder Treacy, who made his Olympic bow in the very first race in PyeongChang in 2018, a nomadic four years in which he has trained in Italy, Hungary and now the USA, should leave him in better shape to improve on previous showings.

The move to the USA, working under vastly experienced coach Stephen Gough, has been a game changer for Treacy, who is now based in Salt Lake City where the improved training facilities, notably with padded barriers, make practising overtaking much easier.

He said: “I’ve become a different athlete and more confident. Before I was confident in my tactics but maybe not in delivering the actual results but now I’m very confident I can do a lot more from an overtaking perspective. Waiting for the last lap is not an issue for me.”

Salt Lake City was where Australian Steven Bradbury famously won Olympic short track gold back in 2002, twice taking advantage of fallers in front of him to scoot through from last to first in his semi-final and final.

That image is one that has stayed in the minds of many when it comes to short track, and while it is fair to say the sport is unpredictable, Bradbury’s story perhaps oversells quite how much of a lottery it can be.

For Farrell Treacy, as well as his new training facilities, there is also a huge amount of work going into make sure he knows exactly what to expect from each of his opponents.

He added: “It’s unpredictable but it’s not fully unpredictable. There’s the element of the Steven Bradbury story and you do always get the odd occasion where someone gets through a couple of rounds. But it really depends on the draws.

“Sometimes a harder draw can mean you have a better chance of getting through. It becomes a race-by-race situation, you reassess every race. I have a playbook sense on certain athletes, I know exactly their go-to tactics. So if I get them in a race, I’ll adapt my tactics. There are people who I like racing more, even if they are higher in the world ranking, just because of their style.”

If Japan is anything to go by, Niall might be someone Farrell would prefer to avoid. But if the duo do line up together, it will be an indication that everything has gone to plan. And this time, they just need to avoid crashing into one another.