TEAM GB speed skater Niall Treacy admitted that qualifying for next month’s Winter Olympics “still does not feel real” as he gears up for his Olympic debut in Beijing.
The Henley-in-Arden athlete secured his place in China with a stunning performance at the Hungary World Cup and takes to the ice on Saturday, February 5.
Competing in the 1000m event, Treacy is joined in the short track speed skating team by brother Farrell and Kathryn Thomson – both of whom competed at PyeongChang 2018.
And just over a week away from the Opening Ceremony, Treacy, whose career on the ice is supported by Entain – owner of Ladbrokes and Coral – and SportsAid, cannot wait for the action to unfold.
Treacy said: “It still doesn’t feel real.
“It still hasn’t set in – the biggest thing that made it sink in more was getting the kit last week, which I’m still wearing now. That started to make it feel a lot more real – and it was like: ‘this is the Beijing Winter Olympic kit.
“It’s starting to feel more different and not just like a normal training day – the excitement is building.
“It’s now only a few days until we actually leave – it’s really getting there. I’ve always wanted to race at the Olympic Games – that’s the top of my list. I just need to make sure I soak it all in when I’m there.
“Just to go out for Team GB and do this at the Winter Olympics will be insane.”
His Olympic chances were hanging in the balance until a fourth-place finish at a World Cup event in Debrecen catapulted him into contention.
That result secured him British Olympic Association (BOA) standard and after another solid display in Dordrecht, Holland, his place in the Chinese capital was secure.
Team GB head into the Games off the back of Dave Ryding’s jet-heeled exploits which secured the 35-year-old Alpine World Cup gold last weekend.
The Rocket became the first British alpine skier to win World Cup gold and, alongside Treacy, will form part of Team GB’s finalised 50-strong squad set for Beijing.
Treacy added: “It’s super inspirational.
“Dave is 35 and he’s at the top of his game – that’s incredible. To be the first British athlete to get the gold in the alpine is so incredible, especially just before the Games.
“It’s absolutely perfect timing. He’s been the first one to set the example – it’s been on Team GB’s social media all over the place and it’s the example of what the expectations are for a lot of the people going and looking to medal at these Games.
“Having that sort of environment really boosts your own performance. To have somebody like that at his age and the leader of the group who’s been to multiple Olympics, it’s good to have people like Dave in the team.
“Dave’s in the third village whereas we’re in the city, so I’m not sure if we’ll be allowed to see other sports. But there’s no doubt if I get the chance, I want to go and watch him, those guys and people like Dave.
“Hopefully he can replicate what he did this weekend out in Beijing.”
Entain, owner of Ladbrokes and Coral, is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. Visit entaingroup.com to find out more.