SYDNEY teenager Cheltzie Lee, with the
memory of close friend Morgan Innes in her heart, skated into
the medal round yesterday.
Lee, the pretty 16-year-old from Campbelltown,
competes to honour Morgan, one of the victims of the 2007 Sydney
Yesterday, Lee did Morgan's memory -
and her friends back home at Canterbury Ice Rink - proud.
The former gymnast smashed her previous
personal best by seven points, scoring 52.16 for her routine
to Michael Buble's Feeling Good to qualify for tomorrow's final.
"I am sure she would be so proud
of me, I wish she was here with me," Lee said. "It's
the best score I've ever gotten in my short program and it's
the perfect time to do it at the Olympics."
Her spectacular performance gives her
entry to the free skate final, where she will compete with 23
of the best women on ice, including the almost unbackable Kim
Yuna from South Korea.
Lee entered the competition ranked 26th,
but her clean routine yesterday vaulted her to 18th.
Friends and support staff at Canterbury,
where Lee has trained since the age of five, cheered her on.
Lee was not oblivious, sending her friends
back home a shout out as she waited for her score to register.
Head coach Kylie Fennell, in Vancouver
with her young charge, was thrilled Lee will contest the free
skate final on Friday, with hopes of a top 20 finish.
"Tonight she even surprised me
with her confidence and maturity," Olympic Winter Institute
figure skating co-ordinator Belinda Noonan said.
"This is significant because she
scraped in here as third reserve - it was by luck that she got
Her skating friends were equally excited,
most whispering they'd wagged school to watch their Games hero
in action. Aspiring ice dancer Patrick Adderley, 16, said Lee's
achievement would bring much needed attention to the sport and
her home rink.
"It's good if the publicity gets
the rink some funding," he said. "It would be nice
to skate without rust falling on us from the roof."
Rink organisers have applied for a NSW
grant to update facilities.
Lee's efforts should now earn them that
Phoebe Di Tomasso, who finished third
behind Lee at this year's Australian championships, hit training
with extra vigour yesterday.
"To pull it all together on the
day that counts is pretty amazing. She did really well,"
the 19-year-old, who is eyeing a place at the 2014 Games, said.
Not content to see his sister take all
the reflected glory, younger brother and fellow skater Dominic,
who recently returned from training in Queensland, shared his
own Cheltzie story.
"I should tell you I dated her
once," he offered, with a boastful grin, before his sister
added "but you can't have a relationship over text."