ST ANDREWS ice skater Cheltzie Lee had some setbacks during the recent International Skating Union’s junior world championships in Bulgaria, but she can still hold her head high.
Recovering from a back injury, unable to practise on the ice surface and competing against skaters five years older than her, the 14-year-old still came away from the championships ranked 23rd in the world.
Australia’s top skating hope for a place in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Cheltzie took part in the event, which featured 56 contestants.
Cheltzie’s mother Renita did not attend the championships, but she watched her daughter in action on a US skating website, which covered the event live.
Renita said her daughter handled the challenge extremely well.
“It was the most anxious I’ve ever felt in my entire life, not being able to be there for her at such an important event,” she said.
“Cheltzie skated her short program scoring 42.77, below her personal best score of 46.26, but still qualifying Australia comfortably.
“Upon reflection, Cheltzie really felt the weight of Australia on her shoulders and of course, felt many things must be improved for the coming season,” Renita said.
Starting strongly in the free skate program, Cheltzie had two falls on two jumps which she usually completes with great precision to drop her from 19th to 23rd.
Cheltzie’s coach Kylie Fennell believes her student “should be happy with what she has accomplished at her first junior worlds”.
“As her coach, I know and believe the best of Cheltzie Lee is yet to come,” Fennell said.
Displaying strength, endurance and rhythm, Cheltzie impressed the Olympic Winter Institute Ice Skating Australia and the NSW Ice Skating Association with her performance.