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Greig swaps his rollerblades for ice skates in pursuit of Olympic dream

6 October 2017

SPEED SKATING: The dream of representing Australia at the Winter Olympics has been the driving force behind Daniel Greig’s decision to swap his beloved rollerblades for the his ice skates.

The Sochi 2014 Olympian is a two-time Junior Inline Skating World Champion and still represents Australia in the European Inline Cup in the Summer, but swaps the sun for the ice just before the Inline World Championships to pursue his Olympic aspirations.

“I used to compete at the Inline World Championships fairly regularly,” Greig said.

“But the problem I have these days is the World Champs are far too close to the ice skating season, so the last few years I have opted out of the World Championships.

“I was a little disappointed I didn’t get to skate the Inline World Championships this year because my results at the European Inline Cup were so good, with a second place, a couple of fifth places, and lots of top-10 places.

“But the downside to that sport for me is that it’s not an Olympic sport and the Olympics is something I had to do.”

The 26-year-old moved from his home in Adelaide straight after high school to pursue his skating passion and got seriously into the ice sport at the age of 20, not too long before the Vancouver 2010 Games.

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He quickly realised that over a decade of inline skating transferred to strong results on the ice.

“I wasn’t expecting to qualify for Vancouver but I was at the qualification competition and I missed out on qualifying by six-hundredths of a second.

“At first I wasn’t expecting that but when I saw I was so close it was heartbreaking because perhaps I had set my goals too low but I had no idea what my potential on ice was.”

Four years later the South Australian was not going to let that opportunity slip through his fingers again and he qualified for Sochi in the men’s 500m and 1000m events.

Greig had a character building Olympic debut as he suffered every skater's worst nightmare when he fell in the opening seconds of his first 500m race - his pet event that he won a World Championship medal in just weeks before the Games. He admirably returned to the ice for his second 500m, despite knowing he could not improve his placing of 39th.

A couple of days later, the then 22-year-old put the demons of his 500m race behind him and clocked a great 1000m race, with a really fast 600m split time that showed he had what it took in his pet event. He finished 22nd in the 1000m.

“I had a lot of mixed feeling about Sochi because for the whole four years leading up I was just planning on participating at the Olympics.

“Then after I medaled at the World Championships right before I thought that maybe I could win a medal, so for that whole Olympics I was emotionally torn.

“I can’t honestly say those Olympics were a pleasant experience for me.”

With his Games debut now behind him, the mechanical engineer is more prepared and focused than ever before.

“Above all I am hoping I can go to these Olympics and now I have a fairly good idea at what to expect, I hope I can make it a more pleasant experience for myself and enjoy the racing a bit more.

“I’m not too worried about qualifying for PyeongChang but my goals are that I want to qualify as high as possible for a good seeding.

“It’s not possible for me to train any harder than I did this summer.”

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Greig is currently at a training camp in Norway getting used to having his ice skates back on.

“I’m spending a lot of time on the ice getting my technique right. I have to work a bit harder on that than ice skating athletes who have done it their whole lives because my body is used to inline.

“At the start of every season I have to learn a few new things again because they’re not naturally engrained in me, but I always seem to be good at getting faster in January and February which is what I want. I have trust in my process for that.”

The first Speed Skating World Cup is in Heerenveen (NED) on November 10.

Greig will compete at four World Cups across November and December, as per the qualification process for PyeongChang 2018.

Georgia Thompson
olympics.com.au

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