NIALL TREACY does not have to look far for inspiration – with the short track speed skater hoping to follow in his brother’s footsteps at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.
The 20-year-old has older sibling Farrell to thank for introducing him to the ice 12 years ago, when Farrell stumbled across a sport largely unknown by the British public after missing a school bus and having instead been taken to training by a friend.
While Farrell, 25, donned Team GB colours at PyeongChang 2018, Niall and the second youngest of four Treacy brothers – Ethan, 22 – are vying for a spot on the plane to China in two years’ time.
The ongoing pandemic robbed Niall of a first shot at the senior World Championships in Seoul earlier this year.
However, having enjoyed a taste of a multi-sport event as the flag-bearer at the 2017 European Youth Olympic Festival, Treacy – from Henley-in-Arden – is confident he can achieve his lofty ambitions.
“My sights are firmly set on Beijing at the moment,” said Treacy, who is financially supported by a three-year partnership between GVC Holdings and SportsAid as part of GVC’s Pitching In initiative.
“Lining up for my first senior race on the World Cup circuit was a turning point in my career. At that moment – being surrounded by the best skaters in the world – I knew I wanted to kick on in the sport.
“Farrell has shown Ethan and I what’s possible and we’re both striving to go to the Olympics, like him. We’re lucky he couldn’t get home from school all those years ago and that his mate introduced him to the ice!
“The current global situation has put a lot of the schedule in question but, with the right preparation, I think it’s attainable.
“Hopefully the European and World Championships go ahead next year and with that experience I’ll be ready to tackle the biggest stage.”
Supported by Paralympian Baroness Grey-Thompson, GVC announced a three-year partnership with SportsAid in 2019 to help young athletes realise their potential and promote grassroots sport.
The investment will provide funding for training, travel and equipment and allow athletes access to mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.
While lockdown has somewhat stuttered his rapid progress on the ice, a pathway towards normality has allowed Treacy and his brothers to return to the National Ice Centre in Nottingham, enabling them to get back to peak condition ready for the return of competition whenever it may be.
He added: “It’s been a strange period because we all usually train together as a team and suddenly we were at home and doing Zoom calls. I love being part of a team and being on the ice, so to be on my own with the rinks shut, it was tough.
“I did a lot of rollerblading, gym work and running to start with, but we’ve been able to return to the ice now and we’re all feeling good.
“We’re not sure if the competitions this winter are going ahead but I need to make sure I use this time wisely. Everything now is an important building block to emulating Farrell and making it to the Winter Olympics.”
GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid.
As part of this three-year partnership, GVC is supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of sports and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.