Beijing 2022: Kilmarnock Winter Olympics star to compete for Team GB after focus on mental health

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Kathryn Thomson believes riding the rocky roller coaster of speed skating has reinvigorated her bid for Winter Olympic glory.

The Kilmarnock ace will headline Team GB’s three-member short-track squad in Beijing as she heads to the ice for her second Games.

But it has been a far from easy four-year cycle since Pyeonghang 2018, with the Scot taking a year away from the sport to banish her mental demons and get her career back on track.

The skates are now securely lashed and with only days left to compete in the Chinese capital, Thomson is determined to complete the “unfinished business” ahead of Beijing 2022 and beyond.

“These last four years have been very eventful for many different reasons,” the 26-year-old said.

“Last season I took the whole season out of the sport: I stayed home and focused on other things off the ice.

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Kathryn Thomson of Great Britain competes during the Women's 1000m Short Track Speed ​​Skating Heats on Day Eleven of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 20, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea.
Kathryn Thomson of Great Britain competes during the Women’s 1000m Short Track Speed ​​Skating Heats on Day Eleven of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 20, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea.

“My base level of fitness, my strength around injuries and a little bit of mental health – general wellness.

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“I went back to Kilmarnock. I worked at Dunelm. It was very different from being an athlete. From a mental standpoint, it was a great breath of fresh air.

“It was a very focused year off – I had clear goals and there were different things I wanted to work on, so I made sure to remain very disciplined so my return wasn’t too difficult.

“It was a big concern and several times during the off year I doubted myself. But I thought I needed to trust the process. It’s what I needed at the time, so I had to listen to my body and mind.

“I haven’t decided yet. [about carrying on]. But I feel like I have some unfinished business and I would like to be in Milan. [at the 2026 Olympics].

“Ultimately, I will have to make that decision based on how Beijing goes.”

Thomson will compete in all three events of 500m, 1000m and 1500m in Beijing and will join the Farrell brothers, who also participated in Pyeongchang, and Niall Treacy.

She has shown promising signs of form on the World Cup world circuit, as her 500m personal best in the Netherlands, bolstered by a fifth-place finish in Japan, kept her in Olympic contention.

Thomson has an international pedigree beyond her years and, having taken a silver at the European Championships in 2014, represents the most experienced short track speed skater on the British team in China.

She failed to advance beyond the 500, 1,000 or 1,500-meter heats in South Korea four years ago and hopes memories of that disappointment will carry her to success next month.

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“I’m going to be much more focused and not overwhelmed by everything at the Olympics as I found Pyeongchang very overwhelming,” added Thomson, whose trip to the Games has been boosted by a £20,000 funding injection for racing. short. speed skating through the UK Sport Beijing Support Fund.

“I felt much calmer ahead of the competitions this season. Hopefully I can carry that over to the Games and carry that confidence from the World Cups. .

“Success in Beijing would be that I enjoyed it a lot but also brought out the best in me.”

UK Sport has the ambition to become a growing force in winter sports. Using investment from the Government and the National Lottery, the Beijing Support Fund demonstrates UK Sport’s commitment to a wider group of sports, athletes and teams in the high-performance community as part of its mission to create the best decade of extraordinary sports moments; reaching, inspiring and uniting the nation. For more information visit www.uksport.gov.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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