Thursday, 9 July 2015

A day in the life of GB Short Track skater, Jack Whelbourne

Earlier this week we spent some time with #Team17 short track speed skater Jack Whelbourne and the GB Short track team at their Nottingham base.

Having skated since the age of six, Jack first represented the GB Junior squad at the age of 14 and competed in his first Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver in 2010, following that up when he became the Junior World 1000m champion in 2011. Jack was chosen to compete at three distances at the Sochi Olympics in 2014. He was the first British athlete to make a 1500m final but he collided with a dislodged rubber bollard and fell. Jack has now put that disappointment behind him and is totally focused on winning a medal in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang South Korea.

On the day we met with Jack he had already started the day at 6am, cycling with fellow GB team member Elise Christie, from their home to the north of Nottingham to the National Water Sports Centre at Holme Pierrepont. 

Beside the lake, the home of British rowing, in the early morning sun, Jack and Elise went through an hour set of lung busting "imitations", a series of strides and sideways movements, all performed in a crouching position to replicate the movement of skating on the ice.

Jack does his "imitations"
Following the session, it was back on the bikes for a 3 mile ride back to the Nottingham Ice Arena in the city, the venue that GB Short track share with the Nottingham Panthers ice hockey team. Once changed in to the skin tight, blood restricting race suits, it was on to the ice for 100 minutes of threshold laps, under the watchful gaze of Korean coach, Lee Seung-Jae.

The threshold laps were a brutal form of interval training, with a variety of timed laps and rest periods, a thorough cardiovascular workout, designed to improve aerobic capacity and help the skaters better cope with the restocked blood flow offsetting fatigue, all strictly performed to the coaches stop watch.

Jack Whelbourne leading from the front
At the end of the session, which was exhausting just to watch, the team went through an intense 5000m relay practice. Then it was a change to gym kit, for a 30 minute lower abs building exercise session in the dance studio, before an hour break for lunch.

Lunch break for Jack comprised of a jacket potato with salad and a meeting with his management team to discuss website design, maximising the use of social media and looking at strategies to gain much needed sponsorship for this fast dynamic sport.

It was very apparent at the meeting that, following a lot of changes involving the governance of the sport, Jack, as British Champion, now sees himself as very much the man to move the GB short track programme forward, striving for excellence, challenging the norm and leaving no stone unturned in the pursuit of medals.

Following lunch it was back to the bikes again, for a return to Holme Pierrepont for an hours group psychology session. Finally, as time on the ice is restricted due to other ice users, it was back on the bikes. This time for a 3 1/2 hour 60 mile ride around the Nottinghamshire countryside, to work on "ice fitness" as cycling is the sport which is closest to using the same muscle groups as speed skaters. Clearly time on the ice would be preferable, but the facility is just not available.

After an exhausting day, there was time for dinner of homemade chicken and lamb curry with rice and Jack was in bed by 10pm, as his alarm was set for 6am, when he was set to do it all over again, in pursuit of his Olympic dream.

You can follow Jack on Twitter @speedyboi158
#ShortTrack #TeamGB #Ice #Training #Workout #Cycling

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