I’m off to the British Skating Championships in Sheffield tomorrow. I’ve attended every ‘British’ since 2002, the year my son David first entered (and won). Each year the nerves begin to build slowly until the final few days when I find concentrating on anything other than irrelevancies (or digesting anything useful) virtually impossible… until the competition is over. As the mother of a competitive sportsman, I’ve found it goes with the territory.
You would think, after ten years, I would have learned to cope with the tension. I agree, and before I reached this position I firmly believed ‘older’ parents had the experience to cope. Now I realise experience doesn’t help! After ten years I am an old hand at accepting the shaking hands and butterflies dancing in my stomach.
I would never have been able to compete the way David does. I know this because when I was a youngster my father had sporting ambitions for me – I was going to be a table tennis champion, except I never learned how to control my nerves.
But there are other reasons why this year is worse than ever. My son’s partner Stacey (he being only one half of a pair skating team) injured her knee badly four weeks ago. The torn ligament meant they had to withdraw from two international competitions and couldn’t train for four weeks. Despite this fact they still had every intention of competing in the British. However last Monday my son twisted his ankle during a training exercise. At first there were fears it was broken but after an MRI scan the club physio was able to assure him it was ‘merely sprained’. The swelling is such he can’t get his skating boot on, never mind lace it up. So we decided competing in the British was definitely off the cards.
They flew back to the UK last Friday (they train in Florida) and went down to Sheffield on Monday to see the TeamGB doctor for an assessment. The physio strapped Stacey’s knee and massaged David’s ankle and suggested the pair skate for half an hour. Today they are going back for another assessment to see if they can risk competing in the British on Thursday (tomorrow).
I know how very hard they have been working all year. They’ve been at EllentonSkatingSchool all year, training five days a week with a punishing physical schedule. They get very little free time; miss seeing their family and friends back in the UK, leading an almost reclusive life in order to fulfil their dreams. We visited them in July and were totally astounded at their progress; they were attempting something called a quad-throw, as well as new and complicated lifts and jumps, well above their current pay-grade! It’s a mark of how much they want to get a place in the next Winter Olympics that they stay motivated.
If you are reading this on 29th or 30th November please cross your fingers for Kemp and King, and if you feel that way inclined say a little prayer. If nothing else spare a kind thought for their mothers who will be sitting huddled together (out of sight) in a nervous stupor of hope and fear.