Eurosport - Mon, 22 Mar 17:24:00 2010
Elise Christie is ready to consistently perform at the highest level after her impressive showing in Sofia this weekend, according to British team performance director Stuart Horsepool.
But the teenager will only be able to do so if the sport secures enough funding from UK Sport's upcoming review insists the team boss.
The 19-year-old yet again underlined her promise by only just missing out on a medal at the World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Bulgaria as she finished fourth in the 1000m.
After a European silver medal in January, Christie travelled to last month's Winter Olympics looking to prove herself on the world stage but the former figure skater struggled in all three of her events.
But Horsepool believes Vancouver provided a steep learning curve for the teenager and she has come out the other side with more experience and stronger than ever before.
"Elise did really well even to make the final in Sofia and she skated some great times throughout the rounds to get there," he said.
"It was the first time she reached a World Championship final and she is gaining experience all the time.
"She is only 19 and it usually takes a long time for athletes to get used to competing at this level.
"We know the potential Elise has and we want her development to continue so she can start reaching the podium in the biggest events."
But the Horsepool believes this development will not be able to continue at the right level unless the sport receives more funding.
With UK Sport set to conduct their winter sports review in April, it is likely a number of sports will see their funding cut, rather than increased, after a disappointing overall performance by the team in Vancouver which saw Britain bring home just one medal courtesy of Amy Williams's gold in the skeleton.
Short track speed skating has never been part of UK Sport's pathway funding which includes the three levels of talent, development and podium and Horsepool would like to see that rectified.
And he insists that the whole British short track team will only be able to progress if funding is secured in the long-term to allow upcoming stars such as Christie and Jon Eley to make the most of their ability.
"We are still not quite hitting the medals at the major competitions, although we are doing that at a European and junior level," added Horsepool.
"When we talk with UK Sport during their review process we will ask for consistent funding, which is something we've never had before.
"Our funding is extremely low compared to other countries and we want to see that change for the better.
"The sport is growing in terms of the medals available and now with a stronger global profile, so we can't just be brushed aside as a small sport anymore.
"Pathway funding would make all the difference to us especially when we have both athletes coming through and those that are so close to making the podium at the highest level."