Speed skating
Charlotte speeds to European bronze medal

By Liam Moakes Wednesday 23 January 2013 Updated: 29/01 15:33

THERE was medal glory for Redditch speed skater Charlotte Gilmartin at the European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Malmo, Sweden, between January 18-20.

The bronze medal for 22-year-old Gilmartin was one of four scooped by the Great Britain squad, which clinched eight top eight finishes from both relay teams and four individuals.

On the first day of the competition, Elise Christie, 22, and Gilmartin won gold and bronze respectively in the 1,500m, with only Italy's Arianna Fontana separating the British duo.

After her race Gilmartin said: "I'm really pleased with a bronze medal. It's my first major international individual medal and it shows the training is working.

"It's also given me a lot of confidence moving forward, so I'm looking forward to the next World Cups."

On the final day of competition Christie skated to another exceptional victory in her best event, the 1,000m (1:30.44), leaving Fontana and Holland's Jorien Ter Mors fighting for silver (1:30.74) and bronze (1.30.75) respectively.

However, world number one Christie had been on track to win the overall classification, until a fall in the last lap of the 3,000m super final which cost her overall gold.

She said: "I was disappointed to fall on the last lap because I was skating away from the others. I just lost my left blade and that was it.

"It's a shame I haven't won overall, but falls happen so I just have to learn from it and move on."

Jack Whelbourne also had a difficult competition. Although skating well on Friday in the 1,500m, he was penalised and then he fell in his remaining individual events.

The Performance Director of GB Short Track, Stuart Horsepool, said: "It's been a very difficult weekend for some of our skaters.

"Charlotte (Gilmartin) was stretchered off after she suffered a bad fall. She's OK but she's got bad bruising to her neck and knee.

"The skaters have performed well so I'm pleased, but when you are skating at 35mph you know there is always a chance things can go wrong."

However, there were top eight finishes for both Jon Eley and Paul Stanley. Eley faced a tough competition to qualify for the final of the 1,500m and, despite posting a good time (2.16:17), his third place finish behind Dutchmen Niels Kerstholt and Freek Van Der Wart meant he failed to progress to the final and placed eighth overall.

Stanley raced well to win his quarter-final in the 1,000m to progress to the semi-finals but in a close semi-final Stanley finished fourth.

In an all-Russian and Dutch final, overall champion Van Der Wart continued his good form to take gold.

In their first outing, the new British women's relay team - including Christie, Gilmartin, Alex Stanley and Kathryn Thomson - finished sixth.

After falling in the semi-finals, they were beaten by Poland and Holland and did not qualify for the final.

The men's relay team - Eley, Paul Stanley, Richard Shoebridge and Whelbourne - missed out on a place in the final after finishing third behind Hungary (6:58.34) and Italy (6:58.434).

Horsepool said: "The men's relay was the only event in which the skaters perhaps didn't skate as well as we'd hoped.

"They are a better team than they showed this weekend, so we have some work to do before the World Championships in March."

The next International Skating Union World Cup event will take place in Sochi, Russia, between February 1-3, and is a test event for the Winter Olympics taking place there in 2014.

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