Rest of British: Who else can lead the world a dance at the Winter Games?: Nicky Gooch - Speed skating

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SHORT-TRACK is a rough and tumble version of the sport in which the best can expect a hard time. Like Wilf O'Reilly, Gooch finished his first Olympic campaign in Albertville on his backside. 'In our sport you cannot predict what is going to happen because so many things can go wrong which are beyond our control,' Gooch says. 'We have learnt lessons from Albertville.'

He was a teenager then. At 21, he has greater experience and is maturing into a strong skater. The threat he poses to the world's best was demonstrated in Nottingham late last year when he covered 1,500 metres more than a second quicker than the world record. Hand-timing, rather than electronic recording, meant his performance was not acknowledged officially, but although only the 500m and 1,000m, plus a relay, are raced at the Olympics, his form will not have gone unnoticed.

(Photograph omitted)