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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 February 2006, 15:45 GMT
The skate escape

By Anna Thompson
BBC Sport at the Winter Olympics

Jon Eley (left) and Paul Stanley
Eley (left) will compete in three speed skating events in Turin
Ice hockey's loss is speed skating's gain as far as Jon Eley is concerned.

The 21-year-old was a promising player for the Solihull Barons in Birmingham but such is the dearth of ice hockey talent in Great Britain, the squad opted out of even trying to qualify for the 2006 Turin Olympics.

Eley realised when he was 15 his dream of competing at a Winter Games would never come true if he carried on with ice hockey so he switched to short-track speed skating.

He told BBC Sport: "I had been playing ice hockey since the age of four and loved it.

"I initially started speed skating when I was 12 to improve my speed around the ice hockey rink and had to make the decision when I was 15-16 about which sport I would do.

Although it is great to be at the Olympics it is really just the same faces you see all season
Jon Eley
"I knew that I would never represent GB in ice hockey at a Winter Olympics so switched to speed skating.

"I got the chance to move to Nottingham where the national team train when I was 16 and I have never looked back."

At 6ft 2in, Eley is one of the tallest competitors on the circuit and he believes this gives him a distinct advantage in the 500m - where he is ranked in the world's top 10.

At the 2005 World Championships in Beijing he finished sixth, and at the recent European Championships Eley was disqualified in the semi-final.

"If I'd not got disqualified, I reckon I would have won a medal," Eley believes.

Sarah Lindsay
Lindsay is taking part in her second Winter Games
He will compete in the 500m, 1000m and 1500m, with team-mate Paul Stanley taking part in the 500m and 1000m.

In the women's events, Britain's Sarah Lindsay will race in all three disciplines and Jo Williams will go in the 500m on Sunday.

The four-strong team has been bonding at a holding camp in Bormio in Italy and Eley believes the team are peaking at the right time.

"Our whole season has been geared towards the Olympics and now we are here, we hope we can deliver," Eley added.

"My dream has come true and although it is great to be at the Olympics it is really just the same faces you see all season. That's how I'm looking at it anyway."

The men's 1000m at the 2002 Games was one of the Winter Olympics' most enduring memories after Australian Steve Bradbury took the gold medal after being at the back of the pack when the leading three fell at the final corner, and he sneaked through to a fortuitous victory.

Lindsay, who is taking part in her second Games, does not believe history will be repeated at the Palavela rink in Turin.

"Bradbury's gold was a very extreme example of what can happen. That was a one-off but everybody saw it because it was the Olympic final," she said.


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