Britain’s women’s short track speed skating relay team demonstrated why they shouldn’t be written off ahead of the Olympic qualifiers at the Seoul World Cup, much to the delight of Stuart Horsepool.
The quartet of Elise Christie, Charlotte Gilmartin, Alex Stanley and Kathryn Thomson set a new British record of 4:14.743minutes on day two of the second World Cup of the season in Korea.
Their performance almost lowered the previous record of 4:16.421 set in Dresden in 2010 by two seconds and was over five seconds quicker than they went at the opening World Cup in Shanghai.
It wasn’t enough for them to progress to the semi-finals as the Italian and Dutch quartets both went marginally quicker in a three-strong heat with only the top two qualifying in Seoul.
Britain were the ninth quickest quartet from the 12 in the heats, offering hope that they can do enough to qualify a place for next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi.
They need to be ranked in the top eight when the results from the next two World Cups in Torino and Kolomna in November, which act as Olympic qualifiers, are combined.
And British short track speed skating performance director Horsepool admitted the efforts of Christie, Gilmartin, Stanley and Thomson in Seoul represent a massive step in the right direction.
“It’s a big step forward for our women’s relay team. Two seconds is a huge margin in short track and it shows the improvements the girls have made,” he said.
“Kat in particular has done well, she is very young but her confidence is growing from competing here and it is reflected in her and the team’s performance.
“They were up against Italy and the Netherlands in the heat and were close to qualifying for the semi-final.
“For them to be close to those nations is good to see because they are well established relay teams from very competitive nations.”
Christie will skate again in Seoul as she qualified individually for 1500m and 1000m quarter-finals, Gilmartin set to join her in the former.
Jack Whelbourne is also in two individual quarter-finals in the 500m, where he’ll be joined by Jon Eley, and the 1000m while Paul Stanley qualified for the same stage in the 1500m.
And Whelbourne, Eley, Stanley and Richard Shoebridge will come together for the men’s relay semi-finals having won their heat on day two in Korea.
© Sportsbeat 2013
Photo David Tyrrell