Camilla spends a day with Swifty Ambassador Charlotte Gilmartin. While Charlotte was preparing for the Olympic Qualifiers back in September, the Team GB Speed Skater and all round super-woman, Charlotte, 27, tells us all about Short Track and life as a full-time athlete. We’re happy to announce that Charlotte did indeed qualify and will be competing with the Team GB squad in Pyeongchang Olympic Games in a few days time.
Not knowing much about Short Track, I asked Charlotte to talk about the different distances and races that constitute Short Track competitions. Charlotte explains that Short Track is a big sport in South Korea, so the stadiums are expected to be packed out.
“Korea dominates in Short Track, I think it’s their third biggest sport, so they’re going to have big backing. In the past people just couldn’t compete with them, because they trained so hard from such a young age, we’re talking 5 and 6 year olds. Korea is definitely the country that has been at the top of the game for the longest. In the last four years since Sochi, Europeans have started to build on them. They can’t skate away from people anymore and they’re not getting every medal out there.”
I learn that despite Short Track being a small sport for the UK, we have a World Champion in our team. Elise Christie, Triple World Champion and 2017 Sports Personality of the Year Nominee, is Charlotte’s teammate. Team GB has a five-strong squad in The Olympic team and a strong chance of medaling. So what is Short Track? Charlotte Gilmartin gives me the summary.
What is Short Track?
“There are three distances, the 1500m is tactical at the start and you build the speed towards a fast finish, where you have to outwit your opponents. This is the distance I’ve medalled the most in, so I now have two World Cup medals and a European Cup medal in that distance.
The 500m is the out-and-out sprint, where you go as fast as you can from the gun. This is my favourite distance because you’re completely on the edge. You’re leaning as far as you can lean, you’re trying to go as fast as you can go, and it’s all on a very fine blade. So that’s probably the most exciting one from a feeling perspective. Then there’s the 1000m which is the distance in between. You end up going hard from the beginning then you have to keep going hard. You can’t make any errors in that. If you start to slip back places, that can really cost you later in the race. And lastly, there’s the Relay which is becoming a favourite. It’s the best to watch, it’s the most exciting. You’re trying to push people round to get them to speed. You’ve got to match the speed and there are four people to think about plus the other teams on the ice. You can have up to five teams on the ice, with four people in each team, so it does become carnage but its super fun to do.”
From the time I’ve spent with Charlotte, I’ve learned how committed she has to be.
She’s an incredibly determined character, with a winning smile. Her enthusiasm and positive outlook have earned her the role of Team Captain, encouraging the younger ones as a role model and mentor.
TeamGB selfie! Camilla with Charlotte Gilmartin: current British Short Track champ, and all round superwoman. Spent the day talking skates and scoots and the build up to the 2018 Winter Olympics. 🇬🇧#teamworkmakesthedreamwork @cpgilmartin @gbshorttrack @teamgb #swiftyscooters #adultscooter #scootcommute #kickfit
But I also like to find out a bit about Charlotte’s racing style and her journey since starting the sport.
“My journey has been like a slow slog. I’ve improved each year just that little bit. But now at the age of 27, I’m finally starting medal and I’m where I need to be. I love racing, it excites me, I like the tactics the overtaking, I like making it hard for people to beat me, and I like trying to win the races. So in training, I probably overtake the most and bring the racing element to it. It’s good because it’s normally against the guys which can be annoying for them! My top speed is as fast as the fastest people in the world.”
And she certainly is fast, and incredibly strong. The training schedule doesn’t leave much room for other interests, “Skating is a full-time thing, in every decision you’re making [off the rink] you have to ask yourself, is this going to help my performance? And if it isn’t, then it’s not worth doing.”
Positive Distractions Give Me Energy
Charlotte describes to me how important the recovery is during the training schedule, and how, for her ‘recovery’ doesn’t always come in the form of napping, but also in the form of positive distractions. I think we can all relate to this, but often forget how important it is for a balanced lifestyle.
“For me, I find that positive distractions are helpful, and being around people gives me energy. Even scooting with the dog and just being active and with people, that’s going to give me more energy than just resting.”
“Using my scooter meant that I could walk my Miniature Schnauzer Daphne in my resting time. I’ve got her in a harness so that she can just pull me along. So she’s getting her walk, and I’m making it harder for her, and I get my recovery! That’s what I need before my nap before I have to come back to training.
So Charlotte Gilmartin, Olympian and British Champion, uses her Swifty scooter to rest her legs as it’s easier than walking. I hope that the extra benefits give her those small gains needed to win medals at the 2018 Winter Olympics – good luck!
Learn more about Charlotte’s scooter Swifty ZERO here.
Not very often that me and Camilla get a chance to get out the office together! Had an super day with #teamGB #shorttrack #champions swifty ambassador @cpgilmartin showed us all the hard work and dedication it takes to become a real #Olympian. Training 6 days a week and 3 gym sessions a day is super hard work! Never quite knew what goes into becoming a champion. #inspiration. Full edit and interview coming to our YouTube channel soon. Huge shout out to @littlemarkphoto for helping us out on the day with his amazing photography and video skills!