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Figure skating duo of Penny Coomes and Nick Buckland and freestyle skier Rowan Cheshire, all of whom have suffered career-threatening injuries in recent years, performed brilliantly to qualify for the finals of their events.
Coomes, who accompanied Buckland in the ice-dance discipline, suffered a serious knee injury in training in June 2016, shattering her patella into eight pieces. Buckland, meanwhile, was forced to undergo lifesaving cardiac-surgery to treat an irregular heartbeat in the lead up to Sochi 2014.
And yet, remarkably, both were fighting fit today to appear at the Gangneung Ice Centre, where an impressive display earnt them a score of 68.36, to leave them in tenth place. They comfortably secured the top-20 finish needed to advance to tomorrow’s free dance, when the medals will be decided.
Reflecting on her ordeals, Coomes said: “It felt amazing being out there after everything we’ve been through.
“It was a very special and powerful moment. When something you love so much goes, it’s the most amazing feeling in the world to have it back.”
Women’s halfpipe skier Rowan Cheshire was forced to pull out of the Winter Olympics four years ago after sustaining concussion during a training run at Sochi, the first of three head injuries in an 18-month period, causing lengthy physical and emotional damage.
She made her comeback in 2016 with a fourth place finish at the Rev Tour in Copper Mountain, USA, and has continued her forward progression, culminating in today’s showing. Her two runs, scoring 74.00 and 71.40 have placed her ninth. The event concludes from 01:30 GMT tomorrow.
She was delighted with how the day unfolded, saying: “It feels amazing to reach the final, I'm so happy, I can relax a little bit now.”
It has been a fine few days for the GB Team. Today’s success only builds on the record-breaking weekend just passed, when Lizzy Yarnold’s gold and Laura Deas’s bronze in the women’s skeleton saw two GB athletes share a podium for the first time and Britain won its first ever medals on skis through Izzy Atkins’ bronze in women’s ski slopestyle.
Further Team GB involvement
Also in the women’s halfpipe, Molly Summerhayes finished 17th on her Olympic debut, gaining great experience, though missing out on a place in the final.
There was success for the curling teams, with the men beating Italy 7-6 and the women also winning by the slenderest of margins, 8-7 against Switzerland. The teams lie third and fourth respectively in their groups.
In the men’s two-man bobsleigh, GB’s Brad Hall and Joe Fearon finished 12th with a cumulative time of 3.18.34m. Amy Fuller was unfortunate not to qualify for the final of snowboarding’s big air, ending in 25th.
Full schedule for Team GB tomorrow
Tomorrow is one of the busiest days of the Olympics calendar for GB’s athletes. Coomes and Buckland, as well as Cheshire, compete in their finals. Cheshire’s GB male counterparts, Alexander Glavatsky-Yeadon, Murray Bucan and Peter Speight, take part in qualification in the men’s halfpipe skiing.
Short track speed skaters Elise Christie, Charlotte Gilmartin and Kathryn Thomson take part in qualifying for the women’s short track speed skating 1,000m.
Christie’s presence is in jeopardy, but she is making good progress following a crash in the 1,500m event on Saturday. She is current 1,000m world champion and sees it as her best distance, and will be desperate to feature. Qualifying starts at 10:00 GMT, with the event concluding on Thursday, when the quarter-finals through to the finals occur.
At the Olympic Sliding Centre, Mica McNeill and Mica Moore complete the first two of four heats of the women’s two-man bobsleigh event from 11:50am, with the medals decided the following day. They will enter the event with confidence having finished joint-second and third in their final two training runs today.
In curling, the men play Norway and the women Japan in their penultimate group-stage fixtures, with both teams currently occupying semi-final spots.