Matthew Parr thinks Great Britain’s rigorous selection process has left him well prepared for next month’s Winter Olympics after being one of seven athletes with North East or Cumbrian connections named in Great Britain’s squad.
It has been announced piecemeal over the last few months, but yesterday the entire 56-strong party was confirmed.
North Shields-born Parr is the first male figure skater to represent Britain at the Games since three-time Olympian Steven Cousins in 1998.
The 23-year-old missed out on qualification for the individual event, but edged out Phillip Harris and Harry Mattick to claim his third National Championship in Sheffield and book a place in the team event.
“I’ve been tested more this season than I ever have before,” said Parr. “We started the process in about May, June, with people coming around to watch us so it’s certainly been testing.
“The fact that I’m a three-time national champion kind of confirms to me that it was the right selection.
“There’s no doubt there are other talented skaters out there, so to reach the highest scores in my own right was very pleasing.”
Carlisle-born David King, who now lives in Florida, will compete in the pairs, while both British men’s bobsleighs will have North East men on board.
Bishop Auckland-born Royal Marine Commando John Jackson, a veteran of the last games in Vancouver, is in the GBR1 four-man team, and Middlesbrough’s John Baines in GBR2.
As revealed in last week’s Journal, Stockton biathlete Lee Jackson will appear in his second Games. Amanda Lightfoot, who lives in South Shields is the female representative.
Emma Lonsdale, a member of Kendal Snowsports Club, has been picked in the freestyle ski halfpipe.
The team, which has been set a target of at least three medals, includes four reigning world champions in curler Eve Muirhead, freestyle skier James Woods, short track speed skater Elise Christie and skeleton star Shelley Rudman.
And Rudman’s skeleton team-mate Lizzy Yarnold will go to the Games as another big favourite having won four of the seven World Cup races to date this season – and medalled in the other three.
The squad beats the number sent to the Vancouver in 2010 by three and is one of Britain’s biggest in history, although exact comparisons are complicated by the status of some sports in previous Games as demonstration events.
Great Britain Chef de Mission Mike Hay believes the squad for Sochi is one of the strongest and could seriously challenge for three medals for the first time since the 1936 Games in Garmisch.
Hay said: “We understand expectations and we take it as a vote of confidence that this could be the most successful delegation since 1936. To think we could challenge for three medals shows how far we’ve come since Vancouver, because we could not have delivered that four years ago. It’s a challenge but it’s certainly possible.”
GREAT BRITAIN WINTER OLYMPICS SQUAD
CURLING – Women’s team: Eve Muirhead (skip), Claire Hamilton, Vicki Adams, Anna Sloan, Lauren Gray. Men’s team: David Murdoch (skip), Tom Brewster, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews, Michael Goodfellow. FIGURE SKATING: Jenna McCorkell (ladies), Nick Buckland (ice dance), Penny Coomes (ice dance), David King (pairs), Stacey Kemp (pairs), Matthew Parr (team men’s representative). SHORT TRACK: Elise Christie (500m, 1000m, 1500m), Jon Eley (500m, 1000m), Charlotte Gilmartin (500m, 1000m, 1500m), Richard Shoebridge (1000m), Jack Whelbourne (500m, 1000m, 1500m). BIATHLON: Lee Jackson, Amanda Lightfoot. BOBSLEIGH: John Jackson (GBR1 four-man), Stuart Benson (GBR1 four-man), Bruce Tasker (GBR1 four-man), Joel Fearon (GBR1 four-man), Lamin Deen (GBR2 four-man), Craig Pickering (GBR2 four-man), John Baines (GBR2 four-man), Ben Simons (GBR2 four-man), Paula Walker (GBR1 two-woman), Bex Wilson (GBR1 two-woman). FREESTYLE: James Woods (ski slopestyle), Katie Summerhayes (ski slopestyle), Rowan Cheshire (ski halfpipe), Emma Lonsdale (ski halfpipe), James Machon (ski halfpipe), Murray Buchan (ski halfpipe). SNOWBOARD: Zoe Gillings (snowboard-cross), Billy Morgan (slopestyle), Jamie Nicholls (slopestyle), Jenny Jones (slopestyle), Aimee Fuller (slopestyle), Dom Harrington halfpipe), Ben Kilner (halfpipe). CROSS COUNTRY: Andrew Musgrave, Andrew Young, Callum Smith, Posy Musgrave. SKELETON: Lizzy Yarnold, Shelley Rudman, Kristan Bromley, Dominic Parsons. ALPINE: Chemmy Alcott, Dave Ryding