Winter Olympics: British ice dancers Coomes and Buckland complete emotional journey

Yahoo Sport UK
Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland of Britain perform during the ice dance, short dance figure skating in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Monday, Feb. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland of Britain perform during the ice dance, short dance figure skating in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Monday, Feb. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Penny Coomes and Nick Buckland defied the odds to finally take the Olympic stage, writes James Toney in PyeongChang.

When athletes talk about going ‘on a journey’, few would have the same rollercoaster story as the British ice dancers.

They were 20th in their Olympic debut in Vancouver and slowly started to inch their way up the world rankings, securing a tenth place in Sochi four years ago, just a few weeks after winning bronze at the European Championships.

Success in ice dancing is never overnight. You have to serve your time and establish your credentials in the minds of judges but Coomes and Buckland were charting the right path.

But, when you are absent from competitions, you are quickly forgotten.

Coomes’ pneumonia forced the team to withdraw from 2015 World Championship but 12 months later they finished seventh – everything back on track for PyeongChang.

And then, during a practice session that summer, Coomes suffered a horror fall and smashed her knee into eight pieces, an injury most thought would end her career.

“It felt amazing being out there after everything we’ve been through,” said Coomes.

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“It was a very special and powerful moment. When something you love so much goes, it’s the most amazing feeling in the world to have it back.

Blood

“I’ve had two surgeries and a lot of blood, sweat and tears and it was an all-time low. I couldn’t walk for three months and it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through.

“While I wish it never happened, I am thankful for the journey because I’ve found a lot of inner strength.

“I hit an all-time low and I was not in a happy place, which just isn’t me. We’ve had to fight every step of the way in our career but we’ve grown stronger and because of how hard we’ve had to fight, it means more to be here.”

  • Watch Nick and Penny’s free dance live on Eurosport 1 at 1am tomorrow. Don’t miss a moment of the Olympic Winter Games at Eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport app

Coomes and Buckland danced to the same short programme that Torvill and Dean performed when they won bronze at the 1994 Lillehammer Games, the last time British figure skaters won an Olympic medal.

But Buckland – who received a text message from Christopher Dean before competing – admitted some disappointment with the scores, which ranked them tenth heading into Tuesday’s long programme.

“We got nice high technical scores but the component scores from the judges were perhaps a little bit conservative,” he said.

“We have quite a low world ranking after missing last season and that hurt us a little bit if I’m in being critical.”

  • Watch Nick and Penny’s free dance live on Eurosport 1 at 1am tomorrow. Don’t miss a moment of the Olympic Winter Games at Eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport app

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