Eurosport - Wed, 10 Feb 20:04:00 2010
British short track speed skater Jack Whelbourne insists the British relay team will be in the medal hunt at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
At just 18, Whelbourne is the youngest member of the short track speed skating team bound for Canada, but the Nottingham Ice Racing Club member is determined to make his mark when it matters most.
With two spots in every event open to Team GB selectors and Jon Eley and Anthony Douglas yet to confirm which disciplines they'll be competing in, Whelbourne may yet compete in one of the individual events.
And having celebrated his selection to the Team GB Olympic squad by claiming 1500m bronze at January's World Junior Championships in Chinese Taipei, Whelbourne admits he has his eye on the bigger prizes in Vancouver.
"The men's relay is probably the strongest team we have had in a while," said Whelbourne. "Unfortunately one of our top skaters, Paul Stanley, didn't go to the Europeans and isn't going to Vancouver because of injury - but we're still confident.
"We still have a lot of stuff to touch around and improve and hopefully get better but as a relay team we are certainly feeling confident heading to Vancouver that we can do a pretty good job.
"At the minute it looks like it will just be the relay for me in Vancouver.
However, we have two spots in every distance and officially Jon Eley has only been announced in the 500m and 1000m and Anthony Douglas for the 1500m, so there are places up for grabs if they want to put us in there.
"But getting a medal at the World Junior Championships has given me the confidence that I can perform individually and I'm hungry to do so.
"I just want to get out there and show what I can do and being the youngest British short track speed skating member to go to an Olympics is something to proud of and I just want to get on the ice and skate now."
Whelbourne is currently in Calgary, fine-tuning his preparations at the Team GB holding-camp for the challenges that lie ahead in Vancouver.
And while he knows that transforming from a promising junior into a competitive senior is a daunting challenge, the teenager is confident, having made huge strides forward in 2009 and 2010.
"I have been competing at bigger and better competitions throughout the year and now it is the Olympic Games and being in Calgary for the preparation camp is bigger and better than anything else I have done," added Whelbourne.
"That will be an important week for me in terms of getting mentally prepared and getting in the best shape possible before the competition gets under way.
"The other guys on the team have been great and they have really helped me. They have talked to me about the experiences they have had, especially the ones who have been to the Olympics before.
"And I have taken good and bad points from it and I am pretty happy with how I am performing personally and how the rest of the guys are shaping up.
"And if I go out there and just perform and not worry about how big the competition is or how big the stage is that I am competing on, then I believe I will be at my best."
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