Q&A with GB speed skater Jack Whelbourne

realbuzz.com catches up with Jack Whelbourne of GB speed skating

On writing this article Jack Whelbourne (at 19-years-old) is the youngest member of the British speed skating team. Nottingham based Whelbourne is six-time British champion in various age groups and was lucky enough to make an Olympic debut at Vancouver in 2010. We caught up with him as he travelled to Italy to compete at the World Junior Championships, just a few weeks before he took to the ice at Sheffield for the senior World Championships.

Q. Tell us more your Olympic debut at Vancouver how did that feel?

A. Experience is one of the main things [for sportsmen] and going into the Olympic games I was one of the youngest athletes. So it was certainly an achievement but it was a big learning curve for me and that is what I took from it. I went out there and didn't really expect to do anything I was just happy to be there I know that I still have a few more Olympics in me so went there, got the experience and managed to get some good results.

Q. Are you looking forward to competing in front of a home crowd in Sheffield, at the world championships?

A. I haven't competed in front of my family for a very long time. I have the junior world championships so I'm in Italy now, actually in the airport, so I can't stress how excited I am about getting on home soil for the first time.

Q. How does it feel to be world record holder?

A. I couldn't believe it to be honest. Especially to be the finishing guy for the relay and we beat one of our rivals we were pretty happy. I can't really say much more. 

Q. Funding is currently a very contentious topic for winter athletics. Your programme just got a boost how important is that for you?

It was very much a positive thing being a young sportsman and seeing that other young sportsmen underneath me get the opportunities that the seniors and I didn't get when I was younger. The world record has just proven that a little bit of belief from the funding situation gave us a good result. We are one of the top teams so we get the funding and go out there and get the results.

Q. You're a young athlete and at 19 show what can be achieved by young sports people. How did you get into sport and do you have any advice for newcomers?

A. I actually got into the sport through my sisters friend who introduced my sister to the sport. She went down to the Nottingham ice arena to skate a session and came home and said that I would enjoy it. So I went to the next session for a look but I got pulled onto the ice — at the age of 6 — and I've been doing it ever since then. So the best advice I could give is no that no goal is bigger than your belly! If you really want something and you really want to prove you're good enough then any age can do it. [We want to] provide inspiration for younger athletes or dreams that they can become athletes themselves. 

Q. Tell us about the preparation you go though before going out on the ice, both mental and physical

A. We have some of the best guys working with us and some of the best psychologists. We have weekly meeting which help a lot with the pressures of being a top performance athlete. I'm only 19 and don't really have a social life now because skating has taken over my life. You come and you take the pressures and some you might not deal with as well as others but if you learn from your mistakes then that's all you can ask of yourself. I'd do it again in an instant.

Q. How do you psyche yourself up and motivate yourself before stepping onto the ice?

A. I don't have a routine really it's just about going out there and enjoying myself at this young age. I have everything to gain by learning new things and learning from other skaters. I get myself psyched up by just getting out there and enjoying myself if I'm having fun with my team mates I'll go out there and skate well.

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