WHEN Sydney figure skater Cheltzie Lee
pulled off the performance of her career yesterday, one person
was never far from her thoughts: close friend Morgan Innes.
Stepping on to the rink for her first
Olympics, 16-year-old Lee dazzled spectators with an athletic
routine performed to Michael Buble's Feeling Good, a show that
put her 18th of 30 skaters with a score of 52.16 points.
"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," she said.
The former gymnast later paid tribute
to her friend Innes, who died in the 2007 Sydney Harbour ferry
"I am sure she would be so proud
of me," Lee said. "I wish she was here with me."
It was a remarkable effort considering
Lee only learnt she would skate at the Games three weeks ago
when an Israeli competitor withdrew.
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"Ever since I found out, I've been
training my butt off so I'm glad I've done the best I can do,"
Coach Kylie Fennell was thrilled her
young charge had made the top 24 to qualify for the free skate
"Tonight she even surprised me
with her confidence and maturity," Fennell said.
Lee has a permanent spinal defect after
a 2007 car crash in Colorado, where she spends time training.
When she is not competing, she wears
a yellow wristband dedicated to Innes, who died in the ferry
disaster with three other members of Australia's ice skating
Another grieving skater, Canada's Joannie
Rochette, broke down in tears after finishing her program, just
two days after her mother's death.
The 24-year-old is poised for a medal,
lying third behind South Korean Kim Yu-Na and Japan's Mao Asada.
Therese Rochette suffered a heart attack
shortly after arriving in Vancouver.
Rochette said "words cannot describe"
how she was feeling. "It was hard to handle, but I appreciate
the support. It was very nice to have the warm welcome,"