Aylesbury's Ellia Smeding reflects on her 'amazing' and 'exciting' experience in Beijing

“I really wanted to put down a good race, to make the country proud and show them what long track is'

By Zoe Ashton
Monday, 7th February 2022, 1:59 pm
Updated Monday, 7th February 2022, 2:00 pm
Ellia Smeding competing in the long track 1500m in the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing  (Picture Getty Images)
Ellia Smeding competing in the long track 1500m in the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing (Picture Getty Images)

By Sportsbeat's Tom Harle in Beijing

Aylesbury' s Ellia Smeding made a pact with herself to relish how it felt to become the first long track speed skater to represent Team GB in a generation.

The 23-year-old let rip on her improbable dream Olympic debut, skating 2:01.09 to finish 27th in the 1500m event at Beijing’s stunning National Speed Skating Oval.

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In the process she became the first to represent Britain in Olympic long track since 1992 and the first woman to do so since Lake Placid all the way back in 1980.

“It's amazing. I really tried to soak up that feeling,” she said.

“I really wanted to put down a good race, to make the country proud and show them what long track is.

“It's so exciting. It's quite overwhelming to be honest, to be in such a massive, beautiful oval knowing you're at the start line at the Olympic Games.

“It was definitely nerve-wracking - all the emotions, but really cool to be able to call myself an Olympian now.”

Smeding’s personal best over the distance is 1:57.62, set in Salt Lake City in December, one step on a remarkable road to the Games.

On the race, she said: “I think there were things that could have gone a bit better, but it was my debut and there were a lot of external things going on with nerves and stuff.

“For my first race, it was fine. You realise it's something you've dreamt about for so many years when you're on the start line, and you're like 'wow', but you also need to keep your cool and it's about finding a balance there.”

Smeding and partner Cornelius Kersten founded a coffee company - named Brew 22 after their bid for Beijing - to fund their campaign to qualify.

They have brought a number of their trademark one-cup filters out to China and earned rave reviews among fellow members of Team GB.

"We brought over bags full of filters," said Smeding. "It's the easiest way - that's why we sell the product, bringing your aero press and your grinder with you is a hassle.

"All you need for a filter is a kettle - and we have one in the village. We're sharing them all around. We've had some really positive feedback from team-mates."

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