Charlotte Gilmartin’s medals speak volumes about her progress and the short track speed skating prospect is definitely more comfortable chasing the pack.
As part of Team GB’s five-strong short track speed skating Olympic squad, 27-year-old Gilmartin has established herself as a podium regular since making her debut four years ago.
Last February she claimed two consecutive World Cup bronze medals and believes she will peak when it matters in her three events – 500m, 1,000m and 1,500m.
“I definitely perform better as an underdog, so I like going under the radar and lettng the performances talk for themselves,” said Gilmartin, who finally picked up her Olympic kit this week and heads to Korea on Saturday.
“I’m more confident than four years ago in Sochi, I really struggled to qualify just because of the pressure of qualifying. So then by the time I got to the Games it was relief more than excitement.
“I don’t think I’ve had my perfect race yet this season for sure so I’m excited to go there.
“The difference is I’m excited this time. I’m there to perform, whereas last time I was there from a development point of view to learn how it works.
“It’s completely different to a World Cup where you race three days straight, eight races a day sometimes. In the Olympic Games it’s sometimes one race a day then you get two days off. It’s very spread out.”
Comparisons to her team mate, close friend and world-beater Elise Christie are inevitable but Gilmartin is happy skating her own way – engaging in tactical battle rather than displaying raw power.
“We’re complete opposites. She’s very strong from the front and tries to take it on from there, whereas I’m trying to tactically outwit people,” she added.
“I feel like the way I race is more risky but it’s more fun. I can’t afford to put all my eggs in one basket necessarily but I love racing – I love the excitement of not knowing what’s going to happen. I race best that way – each move up the pack gives me energy.
“Four years ago I felt like I had to commit, I only had a certain amount of strength in me. So I’d have to risk the moves, like just diving into a corner and thinking ‘they’re either going to hit me and I’m going to get disqualified or they’re going to get scared and move out the way’.
“So that’s how I started out, and a lot of the girls move out the way! I begun to get luck and then I got stronger over the last four years so it wasn’t needed anymore. I could go around the outside now.”
For all her newly-acquired strength, Gilmartin has had a rough time with injuries this season, breaking her coccyx in the first competition then tearing her hip in the last competition.
But a chat with Team GB ambassador Jenny Jones – who famously clinched snowboard bronze in Sochi, Britain’s first medal on the snow – left her feeling she’s not had too bad a run of things.
“I managed to break my ankle when I was younger and I’ve got a decent scar on my thigh where my blade went into it, but I feel like that’s nothing compared to Jenny Jones and all the injuries she’s had,” she added.