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Lanesborough Speed Skating Sensation

Lanesborough pupil, Theo C, holds 3 British speed skating age group records, to go with a cabinet full of trophies gained due to successes through the junior ranks. His recent achievement has earnt him a place at the 2017 Europa Cup Finals.

Theo Collins, currently in Year 8 at Lanesborough Preparatory School, has been short track speed skating since the age of 6. He used to go and watch his brother dive at the Guildford Spectrum, but it was the speed skaters who captured his interest. His enthusiasm to have a go was clear, and after signing up for a taster session, he was hooked. He joined the Aldwych Speed Skating Club, who used the ice rink at the centre as their main training venue. Since then he has never looked back and he has exceeded many expectations. Theo now holds 3 British speed skating age group records, to go with a cabinet full of trophies gained due to successes through the junior ranks.

Theo trains to compete at three different distances: the 500m, 777m and the longer 1000m event (this equates to 9 laps around the ice rink).

Theo at the OCS award ceremony.

To help fund his sporting career, he applied for sponsorship through the charity Sports Aid, which helped him to find his current sponsor, OCS. Last year, he did so well that he was awarded one of their Young Sports Person 2016 prizes. This was presented at their annual ceremony compered by Gabby Logan and Mark Foster.

In short track speed skating, you race shoulder to shoulder with other skaters around a standard size ice rink. The short track speed skating calendar runs from September to May with training camps taking place throughout the summer. During the season there are domestic competitions held all over England and Scotland. Theo is unbeaten in all domestic races for the last 14 months. The top Western European short track event is the Star Class Series, consisting of three competitions which are held around Western Europe each year for the fastest skaters (around 40 in each age group). The top 8 ranked skaters overall across the three competitions qualify for the Europa Cup Final, where they are joined by the top 8 from Eastern Europe. Theo came 3rd in one of the Star Class competitions this season, earning himself a place at the 2017 Europa Cup Final.

Theo also takes part in long track speed skating when he can, which consists of time trials (rather than head to head races) on special 400m tracks (either indoor or outdoor). As we don’t have any long tracks in the UK he has to travel abroad for this. He recently represented Great Britain in Sweden in a country long track speed skating competition.

Speed skating is an explosive and energetic sport, and Theo keeps fit by making sure that he completes at least 45 minutes of specific exercise training each day at home, targeting strength and technique. He then skates for an hour twice a week. However, he feels the time he gets on the ice is significantly less than other European countries, by saying:

“Teams in the Netherlands have the help and infrastructure in place to allow them to train every day on the ice.”

The only equipment he needs is special skates, a skinsuit which is designed to be as streamlined as possible and for short track skating a helmet and gloves. The blades on his skates are much longer and sharper compared to a traditional ice skate. He looks after these so that for every event they are as sharp as possible.

Having qualified for the Europa Cup, Theo is currently training hard whilst trying to balance this with his studies, as he is working towards Common Entrance examinations in June. He admits to finding this balance hard at times, as he is a pupil who has exceedingly high expectations of himself. It is especially problematic if an event dominates his time over a weekend. That said, Lanesborough School acknowledges his dedication and wish to support him in his sporting endeavours. Mrs. Turnbull, Head, said:

“We are so proud of all that Theo has achieved but, perhaps most importantly, of how hard he works towards his goals. We are able to slightly adapt his timetable when needed to allow him time at school to catch up on work either before or after a competition. Theo is an amazing young man who has a very bright future!”

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