Ice dance hopefuls Hanretty and Chitwood see Olympic dream crushed
MARK Hanretty admits he and ice dancer partner Christina Chitwood are victims of their own success after Home Office officials crushed their Winter Olympics dream.
NO GO: Mark Hanretty and Christine Chitwood's Vancouver 2010 dream is over after she failed to fast-track UK citizenship
The 24-year-old feared for his Games place after the National Ice Skating Association was forced to ban American-born partner Christina Chitwood from March's World Championships due to her lack of a British visa.
The duo had originally set their sights on debuting at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, before attempting to fast-track their appearance after establishing themselves as Britain's second-best pairing behind European bronze medallists Sinead and John Kerr.
Chitwood married Englishman Tom Parkin in early August but was told by Whitehall officials to apply for a marriage visa before obtaining indefinite leave to remain. She also has to wait two-and-a-half years to secure UK citizenship.
And Hanretty, who secured a top-eight finish with Chitwood at the Olympic-qualifying Nebelhorn Trophy in September, admits the speed of their progress has been their downfall.
"We were targeting not this Winter Olympics but the next one," said Hanretty.
"But it still hurts and we're still extremely frustrated with the way it has turned out.
"We obviously don't agree with the ruling but it has been set in stone and we move on.
"Christina got married in the summer but she hasn't been granted a visa so they won't let us compete.
"We knew the problem that Christina would have but we were not expecting to be in the frame for 2010 - it was only when we were and Christina was married that we got our hopes up.
"We looked at all our options and whether we could get it fast-tracked but it soon became clear that we couldn't.
"We're still committed to competing and competing with each other so we have to pick each other up and move on."
The duo, who were both selected on the Lloyds TSB Local Heroes initiative for the second year running, finished 18th at the European Championships in January.
And after seeing his 2010 dream extinguished, Hanretty insists he's even more determined to climb up the rankings before the Winter Olympics head to Sochi.
"We won't have the distraction now of the Olympics - even though we would like it - so we can focus on our Europeans and on becoming Britain's number one pair," added Hanretty.
"It will definitely be sorted by 2014 and we can always compete at the Europeans because only one member of the pair needs to be a passport holder.
"Hopefully that means that when we make our debut we can be pushing closer to the podium.
"We finished above a number of countries at the Nebelhorn Trophy who did better than us at the Europeans so it shows good progress.
"We're obviously hurt by the ruling but that should mean that we have everything in place next time round."