Reality TV’s Gemma Collins may be grabbing the headlines for her grace – or lack of it – while dancing on the ice, but two brilliant resort youngsters quietly have their own eyes on gold.
The Only Way Is Essex star, 38, showed the way NOT to do it after suffering a horror fall mid-performance on Dancing On Ice last weekend, but Harry Bennett and Nikolet Wrigley, both 11, are on their way to achieving their dream of being British champions and winning Olympic gold.
The pair, who met at the Pleasure Beach’s Ice Arena rink several years ago, won a silver medal at The British Ice Skating Championships in Sheffield last year, and were the youngest to compete at their level.
They are now ranked second in the country, a fact made even more remarkable by Armfield Academy pupil Harry’s health issues – he was born with a leaking heart valve and later diagnosed with dyslexia.
And Harry and Nikolet are working to ensure their meteoric rise only ends at the top.
International renowned coach Oscar Peter and his partner, Dancing On Ice professional Katie Stainsby, have taken the duo under their wing, with Harry and Nikolet, who goes to St George’s School in Marton, training from 6am some mornings, and after school until 8pm, in Blackpool, Widnes, and Blackburn.
Katie said: “Their first skating season began in Bradford in 2017 in the beginners category, and having competed in Murrayfield, Deeside, and Streatham, are now the youngest couple to compete at basic novice level in ice dance.
“Believe me, this is a massive achievement.”
It hasn’t all been plain sailing, however, with the cost of travel, competitions, and costumes all adding up, and Harry and Nikolet’s families are looking for “significant” sponsorship as they continue their rise up the ranks.
Nikolet, who lives in St Annes, said: “I first started skating doing figures, and then ice dance. This was where my passion was.
“I was lucky to find a friend and partner with Harry – we are a great team. We have two great coaches, who helped us get to where we are now. We are working hard and hopefully we will be able to gain enough points to get to the next British Ice Dance Competition in 2020.”
Harry, from South Shore, added: “We work really hard and we are keen to get into competitions.
“Nikolet and I are the best of friends and it shows, because we both work hard. Just by looking at us you know we have good chemistry.
“I have to thank Oscar and Katie for helping us to get where we are, and further in the future.”
If you can help with sponsorship, email Harry’s mum Leann Bennett on firstname.lastname@example.org