BOA confirm figure skating squad for Vancouver Olympics
THE British Olympic Association have announced their first competitors for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games after the figure skating places were confirmed at last weekend's national championships in Sheffield.
LEADING THE CHARGE: Sinead and John Kerr will lead a team of seven figure skaters to the Vancouver Winter Olympics in February
Scottish ice dance siblings John and Sinead Kerr were the only British competitors in Turin 2006, but five others will join them in Canada in February to make up the biggest British figure skating team since the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer.
The European bronze medallists, who will be the first British figure skaters to compete at the ISU Grand Prix Finals in Tokyo next weekend, will be joined by former British junior champions Penny Coomes and Nick Buckland in the ice dance after the 20-year olds finished second in Sheffield.
Northern Irish skater Jenna McCorkell, who won a record-breaking seventh national title last weekend, will make her debut in the ladies singles in Vancouver while Stacey Kemp and David King will also be Olympic debutants in the pairs competition.
And King, who won his fifth consecutive national pairs title with Kemp in Sheffield, admitted it was the realisation of a lifelong dream.
"It's hard to express just how much this means to us," said King. "When I was a little kid, people would watch me compete then say as a joke, ‘I'll look out for you at the Olympics'.
"Well now that's come true! It always seemed like some massive, daunting ambition so now it really does feel incredible to have achieved it."
BOA chief executive Andy Hunt, who will be Team GB chef de mission in Vancouver, insisted the achievement of qualifying seven skaters should not be played down.
I am particularly pleased to see how our figure skating team has grown from two athletes in 2006 to seven this time around," said Hunt. "All of them had to meet the tough qualifying standards that we established and my congratulations go out to all those selected.
"As a nation, we have a fantastic pedigree in figure skating, and I know it's a sport that's close to the hearts of many people across the UK.
"I'm completely confident that the athletes we've seleceted will do a great job for Team GB in Canada."
The competition in Vancouver commences on February 14 with the pairs short program as the team vie to win Britain's first Olympic figure skating medal since Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean struck bronze in 1994.