2010 WINTER OLYMPICS
JON Eley will have to hope his bold promises don’t come back to haunt him as he prepares to start his Winter Olympic medal bid.
In Turin four years ago the short track speed skater finished fifth in the men’s 500m final – and promptly promised an upgrade in Vancouver.
“I’ll be in my prime – right at my peak,” he vowed.
Eley has genuine claims both in the 500m – the only individual event he has entered – and as part of an improving British relay team. And at the recent European Championships, he underlined that potential with a silver and bronze medal haul.
But Vancouver will bring him up against the best of Asia and America, the powerhouses of short track – a thrills and plenty of spills sport where anything goes and frequently does. “I mean business and I definitely think there is a medal out there for me,” said the former ice hockey player, after his first practice session at the Pacific Coliseum. “I set down a marker at the European Championships and I’m hitting my best form at the best time possible.
“I know there will be more pressure on me now, people will expect results but that is not a bad thing.
“I won’t slip under the radar and I’m confident I can deal with whatever is thrown at me.”
Experienced Olympian Paul Stanley is absent through injury but Eley will be joined in a promising relay team by four Olympic newcomers – Jack Whelbourne, Tom Iveson, Anthony Douglas and Paul Worth.
“I think when you’re in the top eight in the world with three medals up for grabs you’re in a good position,” he added. “As a team we’ve really stepped it up and performed, so I think we have a good chance.”
But ominously for Eley one of his chief rivals is already making some bold predictions about his form.
American Apolo Anton Ohno is seeking to add to his collection of five Olympic medals, including two golds, in Vancouver but remains an athlete who divides opinions.
The Korean media have still not forgiven Ohno for his part in the disqualification of Kim Dong-sung during the 1500m final in Salt Lake City eight years ago. The strength of feeling ran so strong that he required police protection when he next visited Korea for a World Cup event.
“I’m very optimistic about my chances to do well. But nothing is guaranteed in short track,”?Ohno said.
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