Elise Christie made history at this weekend’s Short Track World Championships as she secured three world titles in Rotterdam.
On Saturday, she became the first British woman to win World Championship gold with victory in the 1500m, before adding the 1000m and overall titles just 24 hours later.
Her performance caps an impressive season for the GB Short Track squad, with Christie’s 500m world record and five world cup series gold medals among the achievements, whilst teammate Charlotte Gilmartin has also claimed a European Championship bronze and two world cup medals.
NISA (the National Ice Skating Association) is the national governing body for Short Track Speed Skating in the UK, and the World Class Programme is currently managed by the English Institute of Sport (EIS) after responsibility was temporarily transferred from the National Ice Skating Association (NISA) by UK Sport, the nation’s high performance sports agency in June 2015. It was decided that the World Class Programme would be best led by the EIS, who already delivered sport science and medical support services to the sport. The long term objective remains for UK Sport to work with NISA to improve its governance so that the programme can be reintegrated.
The Institute has appointed Dr Stewart Laing as Performance Director and established a performance management board to oversee the programme and develop the significant medal potential of the athletes.
A series of structural changes designed to improve elite performance and governance have been implemented, resulting in the sport’s most successful season in history.
Dr Laing said: “Elise’s world championship overall title and double individual world championship title is the first for a European women and the first time a non-Asian skater has won the overall title since 1994. We are one of only six nations to have won the ladies overall title. This is significant in the sport of short track for Great Britain.”
“It follows years of dedication from Elise as an athlete, as well as from the coaching and support team behind her. I am extremely lucky to have a fantastic team who work with the athletes on a day to day basis, many of whom are employed by the English Institute of Sport as well as Changing Minds. In the time we have been working with the EIS we have had a great level of support including business, legal, finance and HR, allowing us to focus on performance and delivery. We are in a privileged position to have recently appointed performance scientists and engineers through the EIS and the extended network the EIS provides means we can answer our performance questions efficiently and deliver.”
“We are extremely proud of Elise and everything she has achieved this season, she has exceeded our expectations with the world record, multiple world medals and now the pinnacle.”
“We now look forward to 2018, where we can put the practices into place for PyeongChang. This has always been the aim of the programme, as a stepping stone to Olympic success.”
“There are many things to take away and learn, we are in a good place, but next year we want to be in a great place. On our return we will pause and reflect, and in the meantime celebrate this success.”
EIS National Director Nigel Walker said: “On behalf of everyone at the EIS our congratulations go to Elise on her historic achievement this weekend and to the whole squad, Performance Director Stewart Laing and the entire support team on a superb season.”
“I have been privileged to see first-hand the commitment everyone involved in the programme has shown to improving performance since UK Sport asked the EIS to manage it, and the results speak for themselves.”
“Thanks to their hard work we can look forward to next season and the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang 2018 with confidence.”
The GB team will complete their season with the British Championships on 1st and 2nd April 2017 at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham.