The Wight Diamonds synchronized skating team have celebrated their first international success by taking silver medal position at a competition for novice-level teams in Moscow.
The Wightlink-sponsored Diamonds finished second in their age group in the Olympiysky Sports Complex Cup on 11 May 2008. Overall they were a creditable sixth in a strong field of 16 predominantly Russian teams. The team performed to Dancing In The Moonlight, the same programme that won them the novice title at the British Championships in January.
The girls had a nervous wait as they were unable to understand the Russian announcer. They knew they had skated a clean routine to the best of their ability, but it was not until the awards ceremony that they learned the Diamonds had come second in the toughest age group – the winning Russian team had skated together as a team for more than six years.
With a total score of 34.33 on the International Judging System, the Diamonds achieved a personal best. Less than three points separated third and sixth place in the overall competition.
Nineteen girls aged from nine to 15 make up the Wight Diamonds: Demi Agar, Yelena Brown, Sarah Close, Isabelle Coeshott, Sabrina Danzig, Gemma Fishel, Leah Hancott, Nikita Heathfield, Heather MacDonald, Alicia Macintyre, Gemma Marsh, Charlotte Mennie, Kate Nutbourne, Maggie Read, Jemma Southwell, Zoe Southwell, Louisa Wrighton, Phoena Wilmott-Bayer and Emma Wilks.
The girls were sent off in style when council chairman Arthur Taylor met them early Friday morning to present them with a civic plaque as a gift to the Russian hosts.
The girls proved to be excellent ambassadors for both the Island and Great Britain, finishing top of the English teams competing. They presented all other teams with good luck cards and gifts from the Isle of Wight. The girls made lots of Russian friends and during the closing ceremony they linked hands and skated in an impromptu circle with several of the other teams.
It was not all hard work for the Diamonds as they also had the opportunity to take two sightseeing tours of Moscow. All agreed that their memories of the Red Square will never be forgotten, along with their first ever international medals.
“This was an amazing opportunity for all the skaters and their supporters to see Russia, and to meet hundreds of skaters from other countries. The girls have been working exceptionally hard with their training and with raising money to make this trip possible. I’m very proud of my team once again and hope they continue to success and grow in confidence,” said Terri Smith, head coach and synchro coach at Ryde Arena.
The Diamonds would like to thank everyone whose donations helped make the trip possible, including Hovertravel, Pascalls, Ryde and Shanklin Rotary clubs, Proffs, Jeff MacDonald of the tomato stall, Kids & Co, Planet Ice, and DNN Signs. Donations were also received from Terri’s Nan, Sabrina’s Nan, and the Isle of Wight Ice Dance & Figure Skating Club.
Thanks also to Ian Merry, solicitor, who helped with the visa applications; to Liz and Gordon Read, who donated flowers for the fund-raising gala, To Russia with Love, held at Planet Ice on 3 May; and to Heather MacDonald, who completed a sponsored cycle to contribute towards the team’s costs.