Wind­sor re­alises Olympic dream

Indige­nous ath­lete primed for Pyeongchang, writes Matt Logue

The Observer - - SPORT | FIGURE SKATING -

HAR­LEY Wind­sor doesn’t need re­mind­ing how for­tu­nate he is to be the first Aus­tralian indige­nous ath­lete to com­pete at the Win­ter Olympics – be­cause he al­most didn’t make it.

Wind­sor is head­ing to the games in Pyeongchang, South Korea in Fe­bru­ary, when he will com­pete in pairs fig­ure skat­ing along­side his Rus­sian-born part­ner, Eka­te­rina Alexan­drovskaya.

Flash back to train­ing camp in Moscow last year, though, and the boy from Rooty Hill, in Sydney’s west, was on the cusp of quit­ting the sport.

“I had my bags packed and I’d booked a flight back home,” the 21-year-old con­fessed.

“I was on the phone to my coach balling my eyes out say­ing, ‘I’m done, I’m not do­ing this any­more and it’s too much for me’.

“I was so drained from the men­tal side of the train­ing.

“I was liv­ing on my own, while I was do­ing hour af­ter hour of train­ing.

“As some­one from a big fam­ily, I found it re­ally hard be­ing with­out them.

“I was also in a for­eign coun­try and I couldn’t speak the lan­guage, so there were a lot of tears and break­downs.”

Thank­fully Wind­sor didn’t quit and he is headed to the Olympics af­ter be­ing named on Thurs­day in the Aus­tralian team for the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.

He cred­its a frank con­ver­sa­tion with his par­ents, Peter and Josephine, for con­vinc­ing him to stay in Moscow and chase his fig­ure-skat­ing dream.

“My par­ents have been a huge sup­port,” he said.

“I re­mem­ber they told me to keep go­ing, so I can­celled my flight home and I ended up stay­ing.

“I guess when you have a dream and you re­ally want it, I guess you keep push­ing for it.”

For Wind­sor, his ice-skat­ing dream started in his early teens when his mother took a wrong turn and stum­bled across the Black­town ice skat­ing rink.

He had a go on the ice, loved it and hasn’t stopped since.

Wind­sor will fol­low in the foot­steps of his indige­nous idol, for­mer sprinter Cathy Free­man, by com­pet­ing at an Olympics – 82 years af­ter Aus­tralia first took part in a Win­ter Olympics at the 1936 Garmisch Games.

“I re­mem­ber watch­ing Cathy run at the 2000 Olympics when I was four years old,” he said.

“I briefly re­mem­ber see­ing her on TV and run­ning across the line to win and that has al­ways stuck in my mind.”

Wind­sor also can’t wait to team up with Alexan­drovskaya – who is also his girl­friend.

They met while train­ing in Moscow.

Wind­sor ad­mits be­ing a cou­ple on the cir­cuit can have its chal­lenges.

“I think be­ing with a part­ner is even harder,” he said.

“I’m with her 24/7, so we’ve had some pretty big fights.

“It’s chal­leng­ing be­ing in a pair. Peo­ple don’t re­alise how much emo­tion goes into be­ing in a pair. “When you both get frus­trated that cer­tain things are not work­ing and you want to be bet­ter, it’s hard.”

Wind­sor and Alexan­drovskaya have an im­pres­sive re­cent record. They com­bined to win the Pairs Ju­nior World Cham­pi­onship in Taipei in March, and se­cured their Olympic spot with a bronze medal in qual­i­fy­ing in Ger­many in Septem­ber.

De­spite this suc­cess, Wind­sor is re­fus­ing to get car­ried away about the duo’s chances at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

“At the mo­ment we are not go­ing to win a medal,” he said.

“Our main fo­cus is to try and skate to clean pro­grams the best we can and hope­fully we get a top-10 fin­ish.

“That would be amaz­ing.”

❝I guess when you have a dream and you re­ally want it, I guess you keep push­ing for it.

— Har­ley Wind­sor

PHO­TOS: NEWS CORP, AAP, GETTY

ICE COOL: Aus­tralian fig­ure skaters Har­ley Wind­sor and Eka­te­rina Alexan­drovskaya. BE­LOW, FROM LEFT: The duo with their medals from the world ju­nior cham­pi­onships; the pair in ac­tion; Wind­sor dur­ing the Aus­tralian Win­ter Olympic ath­lete an­nounce­ment.

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