Team GB short track speed skater Kathryn Thomson says the gamble has paid off after taking a season out from the sport just a year before the Winter Olympics were due to start in Beijing.
The 25-year-old will be going to her second Games, having made her debut at Pyeongchang 2018, and will compete across the 500m, 1000m and 1500m as the sole female British athlete competing - following the retirement of Elise Christie, who was not able to earn a second quota place.
Thompson has been rewarded for consistent form which earned Britain a spot at the Olympics and she is joined on the team by Treacy brothers Niall and Farrell, who will be making their debuts in Beijing.
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Originally a figure skater, Thomson says she was drawn into short track speed skating after watching athletes train at her rink. A fast, frantic sport, she describes the feeling of gliding around the track as feeling like “slow motion”.
But the build up to the Games could have gone very differently for Thomson - who made the bold decision to take a break from skating midway through the four-year cycle.
“The pandemic has actually had quite a big impact on me,” she told Eurosport.
“Thankfully, not through any personal losses. I took a whole season out last year, which is quite a brave thing to do a year before the Games.
“I stayed home, worked to save money for the season, being an unfunded athlete and going through a pandemic had some added stresses. I just took a huge chunk of time out of sport to deal with all that. But I came back this year in a much better place for it. So it was definitely the right decision.”
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Thomson has big shoes to fill, following the attention that was on Christie in Sochi and Pyeongchang on the back of world and European titles. Having taken in one Olympics already, she feels she knows how to deal with all of the hype around it.
“I think something I took away from the last Games was that it's very overwhelming when you're there,” she said.
“It's very exciting but it's very easy to get swept away with all that. So I think going into this Games, having that experience, I'm going to try and be a little more level headed and focus more on my skating.
My target is to go out there have fun and just do my best, if I come away thinking I could have done better, I could have made this move, I will have disappointed myself - I just want to do the best I can, I'm not sure what that is yet.
“I'm doing this for myself and my family, I've been involved in skating since I was really little. I just really enjoy it and I just feel like I haven't reached my potential yet. There's been a lot more challenges these past few years.
“I just have that much passion for it that I can't stop until I feel like I've done everything I can do in the sport.”
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