It’s only four months to go until the Winter Olympics and Team GB’s preparations are coming on nicely with many athletes about to embark on the new winter season in a bid to qualify.
Ten curlers and two figure skaters have already booked their seats on the plane to PyeongChang and in advance of the Games a small delegation from the British Olympic Association made a final pre-Games recce to South Korea this week.
The visit, which included a number of sport Team Leaders, was designed to see how the venues and the host city were progressing, giving Team GB the chance to inspect the facilities as late as possible before venues going into lock down mode at the end of the month.
The delegation, led by Team GB Chef de Mission Mike Hay, were given an update from the organising committee, saw each of the sport venues and inspected both Athlete Villages – including Team GB’s blocks in both the mountain and the coastal clusters.
Hay, who led Team GB at the last Winter Olympics, said: “I've always felt some nations miss out on not seeing the venues and the overlay of the Games as late as possible and for us it’s a huge help seeing the competition and accommodation facilities in as a developed state as we possibly can.
“And what we’ve found has been hugely beneficial for our sports and our HQ team, with venues looking good and the city in great shape to welcome us back in February.
“We were warmly welcomed by the Organising Committee, who gave us a thorough overview and update of their plans and it was pleasing to see so many of the challenges they’ve faced have been overcome.”
For the Team Leaders, the visit meant a chance to sit down with the competition managers of their sports, see the venues in great details, discuss the facilities and see first-hand where their athletes will be living during the Games.
Curling Team Leader and British Curling Performance Director Graeme Thompson said: “These recces are critical in order to help us be the best prepared we can be in February. The attention to detail that these trips oversee is excellent and helps us create a competitive advantage.
“We’re quite familiar with the curling venue and winning silver in the world juniors and bronze in the wheelchair curling championships shows we know how to win medals there. Being out here at this time means we can learn more about the ice conditions after they relayed the floor and play with the stones a little bit which is a big element.
“All the team leaders working under the umbrella of the British Olympic Association will go into the Games with as good as or even better knowledge than anyone else of the environment we’ll be competing in.”
Lesley McKenna, GB Park & Pipe Programme Manager, added: “These final trips to South Korea are vital in providing key information around what our athletes can expect from the Games in February, from the competition venues and the Village to the operations and logistics.
“Many of the smaller details don’t become apparent until now so it’s great to be able to address them so close to the Games starting.
“We’ve had four test events already in PyeongChang across the discipline which have all gone really. The courses are in great condition so we’re really excited about being here again in four month’s time.”