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No short track to success for speed skaters

7 February 2018

SHORT TRACK: There’s no doubt Deanna Lockett has grown up quickly.

At just 15 the petite speed skater moved from Brisbane to Melbourne on her own, believing the better facilities and coaching would help her take her sport to the next level.

That gamble paid off just three years later, with the then 18-year-old becoming the youngest athlete on the Australian Team at the 2014 Games.

“It was an amazing experience, but I was really young and really not prepared for it all,” she laughed.

“The Olympics is definitely different to any other competition - the whole atmosphere and the village experience - it’s all so different and it takes time to get used to it all.

“Also, I was really little back then. In Sochi I was only 48 kilograms - I was very small, only a child really, so I didn’t have the muscle and strength to beat the top skaters.”

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But, weighing in now at a whopping 52 kilograms, she says she’s ready to mix it with the best.

“I’m a lot more powerful and I’m a lot bigger,” she said. “I’ve grown up and I have muscle now. I’ve always been good technically but I’ve just gone through that whole development and now I’m a real lady.”

And, she knows that even ‘real ladies’ have to stand their ground, in a sport that’s often compared to the rough and tumble of roller derby.

“There’s definitely some pushing and shoving out there, and I’m used to that now,” she said. “There’s a line of how much you can get away with, but sometimes that line gets a bit shady. I will push back if I have to but I just try to go on the outside and not get involved. I like to focus on my strength which is my technique and not get involved in race tactics too much.”

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That’s advice she’s passed on to teammate Andy Jung, who’s making his Olympic debut, competing in the 1500m and 500m short track events.

“I’m excited and nervous at the same time,” Jung said.

“It feels kind of weird because I’m back in my ex-country. I speak Korean and I recognise all the shops, so it feels like being at home.

“I just hope the Korean supporters don’t hate me for changing countries and choosing to represent Australia now.”

And while Lockett says she’s been trying to impart solid advice such as “don’t forget your accreditation” and “don’t be late for the bus,” Jung says he only really listened to one thing.

“Deanna told me there’s free McDonalds for the athletes here and that means I can have a McFlurry every night,” Jung laughed. “And after that I don’t really remember what else she told me!”

But all jokes aside, the 20-year-old admits he’s not here just for the experience.

“I want a bronze medal in the 500m race. That’s my goal. I’ve told my parents and I think I can do it,” he said.

“The shorter race suits me because you have to give 100 per cent from the moment the gun goes off. There’s no time for tactics or thinking you just have to go, and that’s what I’m good at.”

Lockett will compete in the 1500m and 1000m race on Days 8 and 11 respectively (17 and 20 February).

Jung will compete in the 1500m and 500m on Days 1 and 11 respectively (10 and 20 February).

Katherine Firkin
olympics.com.au

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