Speed skater Niall Treacy reckons racing on the rapid Beijing ice is the perfect incentive for catalysing his quest to reach next year’s Winter Olympic Games, writes Will Jennings.
Nottingham-based Treacy, 21, remains in pursuit of a spot at February’s Games and is currently aiming to qualify in World Cup events in China, Japan, Hungary and Holland.
Versatile Treacy competes in all three 500m, 1,000m and 1,500m distances and recently raced at Beijing’s National Speed Skating Oval – next year’s Olympic venue – in the first event of the season.
He was unable to advance to the finals in the Chinese capital but says sampling the speedy conditions has whetted his appetite for tasting the Winter Olympic big time.
Treacy, who lives in Nottingham and trains at the National Ice Centre, said: “I feel like I’m in a good place to really give [reaching the Olympics] a good go.
“The hotel in Beijing for the World Cup event had all the Olympic branding decorated on it – and we skated at the same rink.
“You’re in the changing rooms that you know are going to be used for the Games, and it’s quick ice out there as well. It was nice to be on that.
“It made me think: ‘I want to come here for the Olympics,’ as I know it’s going to be fast.
“The whole experience of landing in Beijing was amazing – I’ve never been before and it’s so busy. Driving to the hotel after a military-like exit from the airport, there were police cordoning our bus off in rush hour and it was pretty crazy.
“Even though it was all under Covid regulations, you can really feel the buzz around it. All the volunteers were all buzzed up too because the Olympics are coming.
“It’s now fewer than 100 days until the Olympics – they were all preparing and it was great for us to prepare and race against people who will be at the Olympics. It was pretty special.
“I haven’t got the job done just yet and it was slightly disappointing – but I’m more motivated because of that.”
Treacy delivered an improved set of performances at the second World Cup event of the campaign in Nagoya, Japan, but knows he still has work to do to secure his spot on the plane.
The Midlands star flew out to Hungary this weekend where he hopes to grab valuable points and extend his claim for a place in the Team GB squad.
Treacy’s brothers – Niall, 25, and Ethan, 23 – are also stars of the British skating scene, with Niall memorably competed at the Olympics in Pyeongchang three years ago.
The youngest of the trio says he remains on track to follow in his footsteps and hopes hitting his straps in Debrecen, Hungary, and Dordrecht, Holland, can catapult him into contention.
Treacy, whose career on the ice is fuelled by a partnership between Entain – owner of Ladbrokes and Coral – and SportsAid, added: “There’s no doubt the next two weeks will be tough – but we always knew it was going to be tough.
“I don’t think there’s anything to say if things go well, I race smart, feel fit and feel confident, it can’t happen.
“That’s the mentality I’m going with – if you think about the first two not going our way, it’s not going to happen.
“I feel like we’re building as a team at the moment and I don’t see why not.
“The whole group – me, Niall and Ethan – has come in, we’re switched on and know what we need to do. If it happens, it happens, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t – but we’ll know we gave it a great shot.”
Entain, owner of Ladbrokes and Coral, is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. Visit entaingroup.com to find out more