As a very active child, my mum encouraged me to put my energy into sport so at the age of seven I took up figure skating. After figure skating for many years I fancied trying another ice sport, so as a hobby I took up speed skating at the age of 12.
At the age of 15 I started to figure skate less and had begun to lose my love for the sport. I entered the British Championships for speed skating in April, and was fortunately selected for the British team. I couldn't believe it as I had never been on the development team so the national squad was a big step. Especially seeing as you had to relocate to Nottingham to be part of this amazing opportunity.
After a lot of thought (and encouragement from my mother) I decided to pack up and leave my little town in Scotland and move to the city of Nottingham, not everyone receives such a great opportunity and I am very lucky that I did.
I competed in my first senior World Championships that same season and I then knew that I had to target skating in Vancouver 2010. A few years down the line and I had qualified for the Olympic Games. This was such a mind blowing experience; this led to a massive change in my attitude.
On completion of the games I decided that it was time to become a different level of athlete. I now wanted to not just go to the Olympics, but I wanted to go there with a medal-winning chance. I knew a lot had to change and I met with all the members of support staff to discuss the different little changes I could make to get myself there, I set a yearly plan and finally I changed my mind-set; I decided it could be me and that I had to give myself the best opportunity I could.
I believe that if a person does everything they possibly can to become an Olympic medallist and it doesn't work out, then you cannot be disappointed. I will never be someone that will say 'I'm going to win a medal at the games', but I can guarantee I will do everything I can to give myself the best chance possible.
It is such a nice feeling to have someone put me forward for something like the Sky Sports Scholarship, I think it is good that speed skating has now caught the eyes of people who can make a huge difference to the sport. I had an amazing season last year and I will remember how good it felt for the rest of my life! Let's hope this will be a life changing year!
I have now been a part of the Sky Academy Sports Scholarships programme for a year and I can honestly say that it has helped me in more ways than I believed possible. Coming from a minority winter sport I feel privileged to be a part of the programme and have the opportunity to build such a close relationship with Sky.
Without the media coaching that I received through the Scholarship programme I would never have been able to cope at the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. It was very difficult going from a disappointing performance, at the most important competition of my career so far, straight into the mixed zone at the ice arena.
My media training didn’t tell me to put a brave face on in front of the camera (and the millions of people watching), it taught me to be honest and show who I am and what I am actually feeling. So instead of putting on a ‘show’ I felt confident and able to show my true emotions.
Sky has also enabled me to have much more freedom in my training plans and equipment, due to the financial support. I am now able to participate in training camps abroad, in which I can learn to skate amongst girls. A lot of the time at home, I have to train with the men which makes it very difficult to practice racing skills.
I now hope that over the next few years I can train abroad enough to develop my racing skills for the 2018 Winter Olympics and be much better prepared than I was for Sochi. I could never have dreamt of doing this before Sky gave me to the chance to join the Sky Academy Sports Scholarships programme.
The programme has also been very helpful to short track in general. Firstly, it has given the sport more exposure and as people have got to know the sport better, club teams around the UK have been filling up with new people wanting to get involved – this should help provide a bright future for short track in this country.
Also through getting to know my fellow Scholars and their sports, we have been able to pick up new training techniques and skills that can be applied to our training, thus increasing the variety of our sessions.
Finally, as you may be aware, being part of the programme enabled me to take part in the ‘Tour de Yorkshire’ cycling challenge. It was great as it helped me to learn some new skills on a bike and helped increase my aerobic capacity as well as allowing me to experience what it is like to work in the TV industry and see how things work behind the scenes. It was great to experience not only another sport but another job completely. The challenge came at just the right time and enabled me to refresh mentally after the Olympics. I also build a good relationship with Watt Bike, which could never have happened without this challenge.
Last season I managed to improve my World Championships results from a bronze medal and seventh place overall to a silver and an overall fourth position. I also retained my 1000m European title and came second overall.
I also made an Olympic final and came very close to winning a medal as well as skating to within 0.1s of the 500m world record, becoming one of only two women in the world to lead a 500m that fast.