CLARE UPTON has become the British long track ice speed skating champion over 5,000m at the age of 50.
In only her second long track competition, last year’s British Championships being her first, the gold was one of three medals she collected.
She grabbed silver in the 500m and a bronze medal in the mass start race, held over 12 laps of the circuit.
It made a great celebration for the speed skater, who coaches in Gosport.
She said: ‘It’s a brilliant feeling to be British Champion, I’ve waited 50 years for it!
‘My mum first took me skating when I was five, but I’ve been speed skating since I was 17.
‘I was competing in the British Championships in short track, up until I had my children. I was still speed skating when I was eight months pregnant with my eldest!
‘I was second in Great Britain last year, when they held the first British Championship.
‘This year I moved to the 5,000m and came home with gold.’
Upton achieved two big personal best times in her medal winning performances.
She won the British title in 10min 40sec – beating her previous best by around 50 seconds – and is determined to keep on improving her times.
She added: ‘It’s a great feeling because I’m not getting younger, I’m getting older every day, so I want to be getting my personal best lower.
‘I took two seconds off of my 500m best and came back with a silver medal, which is also great.’
Upton, who coaches at Everglides, in Gosport, already has her sights on the 2017 Championships and is confident she can repeat her success.
She added: ‘I’ll be competing next year and I might even move up to 10,000m.
‘They’re talking about including it next year and it would be the first time Britain has ever done it, so I would love to do that.’
Unfortunately, the British Championships are held in the Netherlands because of the lack of suitable facilities here.
Having a 400m track in Britain would make the sport more accessible for people to get involved and for fans, friends and family to watch.
But Upton’s success is already inspiring some of her students to take up long track.
‘To have something in the South like the complexes that they have in the Netherlands would be great,’ she added.
‘It’s tough to get there, but because it was in the Easter holidays, my husband and two children came to cheer me on.
‘A couple of my short track supporters and guys that I teach also came to support me, which is great.
‘While we were out there, two of them brought long track skates.
‘So now they can compete in both short and long track.’