A month after their last World Cup, the Australian team is more mentally ready to hit the ice at top speed at the third World Cup in China.
“Everyone is feeling more prepared moving into the final two World Cups of the qualifying season and ready to give another big push forward to secure spots for the Games,” Australia Short Track coach Lachlan Hay said ahead of Thursday’s first events.
“Team morale is great, everyone is working hard and feeling confident.
With a bronze medal-winning 1500m performance already on the board this season for Sochi Olympian Deanna Lockett, the 21-year-old will be looking to push extra hard in the 500m and 1000m distances to qualify in more events for the Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang next year.
“Deanna will still focus on keeping this high ranking [in the 1500m] but will also put a big focus on the other distances to improve again and qualify in more than one distance. The plan will still stay the same,” Hay said.
Lockett’s fellow Aussie teammate Andy Jung is also on the hunt for a podium finish to inch him closer to an Olympic debut in South Korea.
At the Dordrecht World Cup in October, Jung placed second in his 500m preliminary, heat and quarter-final races, before he was unfortunately penalised in the semi-final and missed out on a medal chance.
Although the penalty was ill-fated, Hay said Jung’s strong form and consist speed has him in good stead for this week’s World Cup.
“Penalties are things we deal with all the time in our sport and the athletes have become very mature about moving forward and not letting it affect them.
“We learn from these and know what the referee will look for in these situations.”
Australia’s Short Track World Cup team has a balance of experience and youth. Sochi Olympians Lockett and Pierre Boda provide guidance to the young up-and-coming members of the team, including 18-year-olds Liam O’Brien and Keanu Blunden.
Learning from their more experienced teammates and gaining exposure to the World Cup stage has had a major impact on the youngsters, Hay said.
“Keanu and Liam look like they have come to these final two World Cups in better form than the start. It’s a big stage for the young skaters but they are getting used to it and the racing and I think will perform a lot better this time around.”
The Shanghai ISU Short Track World Cup runs 9-12 November. Follow the live results at the event website HERE.
Learn more about Olympic Short Track and its proud Australian history HERE.