Proud Buckland delight at European Championship bronze

17 January 2014 / 11:06

British ice dancers Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland held their nerve to strike bronze at figure skating's European Championships in Budapest.

Coomes and Buckland, both 24, were third heading into the free dance and produced a well-executed routine, set to the music of Michael Jackson, to secure the best result of their careers and a personal 158.69 score.

And the achievement was all the more remarkable considering Buckland's season looked in doubt after he had to undergo a heart operation just a few months ago.

Italian couple Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte, bronze medallists last year in Zagreb, took gold to prevent Russian favourites Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov upgrading their silver from 12 months ago.

Coomes and Buckland are the first British medallists at the event since former training partners Sinead and John Kerr finished third in 2011 and before then you need to go back to Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean's gold in 1994.

“In our first European Championships we were 16th, so I feel very proud to be sitting here with a bronze medal. We’ve come a long way," said Buckland.

Cappellini and Lanotte took a fractional lead into the free dance and Ilinykh and Katsalapov, two time medallists at the event, looked likely to overtake two thirds of the way into their complex routine, until an untimely fall proved decisive.

Reigning champions Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev, who recently won the Russian national title to secure their Olympic selection, and two-time winners Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat of France are both skipping the event to focus on Sochi preparations.

© Sportsbeat 2014