Gooch: Great Britain must perform

Olympic bronze medallist Nicky Gooch believes the pressure is well and truly on Great Britain’s short track skaters to perform at the Winter Olympics.

Eurosport

Now coaching a team of seven skaters in Vancouver, Gooch is Britain’s only Olympic medallist in short track when he took bronze in the men’s 500m at Lillehammer 1994.

Great Britain were expected to blossom in short track with Gooch’s medal coming hot on the heels of Wilf O’Reilly’s double gold when it was a demonstration sport at Calgary 1988.

But Jon Eley’s fifth place in Turin four years ago is the best Great Britain have been able to muster since.

In relative terms, short track is relatively well funded, receiving £964,000 of the £6m handed out by UK Sport but winter sports receive just 1.5 per cent of the funding doled out to summer sports in the lead-up to London 2012.

And Gooch believes the balance needs to be redressed.

"Unless you're a medal sport then all the money will go on the Summer Games. Of course, no one will say that officially but that's my opinion," said Gooch.

"It's a catch 22 situation because how do you beat a team like Canada when they have a massive budget?

"But in saying that, it's not all about money. You can still find talent.

"To say that because you didn't win a medal you're not going to get funding is unrealistic.

"But you have to show you're a medal prospect and the potential is there."

Much will ride therefore on the progress of Eley, the stand-out name in Great Britain’s seven-man squad, having captured European silver over 500m in January.

But while Eley garners attention in the British media, there have already been promising performances in Vancouver from the likes of 18-year-old Jack Whelbourne, who reached the semi-finals of the 1500m.

"It was his best ever finish and to do it at the Olympics is excellent," added Gooch.

"He's a talented kid we've known for a long time and this was his first year on the senior circuit."

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