Kathryn Thomson beat her homesickness to realise Olympic dream

Kathryn Thomson, right, aims to 'have fun' at the Games. Picture: Getty.
Kathryn Thomson, right, aims to 'have fun' at the Games. Picture: Getty.
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All eyes will be on Elise Christie as she starts her bid for Olympic glory, but for another short track speed skating Scot, taking to the ice on the biggest stage will represent a personal victory in itself.

Terribly homesick after switching the comfort of Irvine for Nottingham and the National Ice Centre in 2012, then 16-year-old Kathryn Thomson was questioning whether she had it in her to keep pursuing her dream of a career in the sport.

The answer, thankfully for Thomson and all those backing her, was yes, and after years of persistence and hard work, she will join Christie and fellow Brit Charlotte Gilmartin in the women’s 500m qualification in PyeongChang today.

“When I first moved down from Scotland I really struggled. It was quite daunting being in a big city and being quite young,” explained Thomson, who will also compete in the 1,000m and 1,500m later in the Games.

“I really wanted to stay in school and get my Highers but it seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, which I had to grasp and see where it might take me. It was tough though. I went home for the off-season and there were times when I didn’t really want to go back to Nottingham.”

The 22-year-old is five years younger than her team-mates, who both have Games experience under their belts, although Thomson did win silver at the 2013 European Youth Olympic Festival and was selected to carry 
Team GB’s flag in the closing ceremony. All three train together in Nottingham, where tactics will have been shared on how to stop the dominant South Korean skaters in their tracks.

Christie has already shown it is possible, becoming the first European woman to win the overall world title last year, leaving three-time Olympic medalist Shim Suk-hee trailing in her wake in third.

But while the former is firmly among Britain’s leading medal hopes, Thomson knows it is about playing the long game regarding her own success.

“I’m here to learn everything I can, so in four years’ time I can come back and put down solid results,” she said.

“It’s about soaking up all the experiences I can and feeling comfortable with being an Olympian. I’m not putting myself under too pressure right now.

“That time will come but now it’s about having fun.

“I’m not as tactical as Charlotte and I’m not as strong as Elise yet, so I’m not at the front destroying everyone. Somewhere in the middle.

“As long as I can learn from the experience, put myself out there and try my best, even if I’ve not done very well, that’s a success for me.”

l Watch Kathryn Thomson in the women’s 500m qualification on Eurosport 2 today. Don’t miss a moment of the Olympic Winter Games on Eurosport and Eurosport Player. Go to www.Eurosport.co.uk