Winter Olympics: Short Track

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The Independent Online
BAD memories from Albertville, where Wilf O'Reilly was given the build-up that T & D have endured this time, and ended up sliding around on his bottom after falling in the 1,000m speed skating semi-final. O'Reilly is back again, but has been through a traumatic time with his girlfriend being horribly injured in a training accident, so Nicky Gooch, the recently crowned European champion, is the main hope in a hugely unpredictable sport - and a unique one in the Games because people actually take on each other rather than the clock.

Short track is a bit like Rollerball. Four people racing shoulder to shoulder round an oval 111m track, with straights of just 30m, at speeds of up to 30mph can obviously lead to spectacular mayhem - at the European championships there were 21 disqualifications for barging, one broken leg and one broken nose - which will please the television executives hoping for a ratings boost.

Despite this, short track has yet to make a big impact in Europe, where traditional speed-skating still holds sway, and it is the Canadians, South Koreans and Chinese who are the likeliest champions.

British team: Jamie Fearn, Nicky Gooch, Wilf O'Reilly, Debbie Palmer.

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