Interview: Mikki Graham, Wight Jewels

Left to right: Wight Jewels Izzy Coeshott, Gemma Marsh, Mikki Graham and Heather Macdonald at the Spring Cup draw 2012

Tears of joy at the Junior World Challenge Cup were mixed with tears of sorrow as Wight Jewel Mikki Graham said her goodbyes. iowskaters interviews the first Jewel to retire of “old age”

Pursuit of excellence requires dedication, and perhaps this is illustrated no better than the devotion of Wight Jewel Mikki Graham. Mikki retired from the Jewels after the Junior World Challenge Cup in Gothenburg because at 19 she will be too old to compete at junior level in the 2012/2013 season.

Isle of Wight synchro teams have always welcomed skaters from the mainland into their line-up, from places such as Gosport just across the Solent, and Swindon. But Mikki has outdone them all, travelling from Swadlincote, Burton-upon-Trent, in south Derbyshire to train with the team, involving some pretty long hours.

Mikki explains what is involved:

“I start out at 1:30am on Saturday morning and my dad drive 176 miles down to Portsmouth to catch the Fast Cat ferry at 5:15am. We arrive on the island at 5:30am and walk to the rink were I get my skates on and we’re on the ice at 6am for two hours. After training we then get the 8:45am Fast Cat back to the mainland for 9am. Then we have a three-hour journey back home. When I get home I then go to bed where I catch up on sleep. I do this trip every other weekend.”

Is travelling to full-sized rinks any easier? How do your parents feel?

“When we train in Basingstoke it is a two-and-a-half-hour journey. Even though we are training in the middle of the night it is more beneficial to us as a team as we can skate our programmes on full-size ice. My parents are used to travelling as they used to take my brother around the country playing ice hockey and my mum is used to travelling as she is a figure skating coach.”

How do you cope with the demands of skating and education?

“I am currently at college studying travel and tourism. My college encourages and supports me with my skating and as long as I give them notice I can have time off for skating.”

How did it feel joining a team so far from where you’re based? Did it take time to settle in?

“I had no worries about joining the Wight Jewels as I’d known Terri and the girls for two years before joining the team. When I decided to go down to the island the whole team, coach, managers and parents were all very welcoming – it’s one big happy family!”

If you’re making every other practice, does it take long to pick up on what’s happened?

“It doesn’t take  long to pick up new things as coach Terri and the co-captains Gemma and Izzy email me the changes to the programmes and also send videos. Then I practise these on my home rink in Solihull.”

How does it feel to be part of the Jewels?

“I feel very privileged to be part of such a professional team. The team, coach and managers create such a friendly and happy atmosphere: we always have lots of fun and yet still work hard. I’ve been honoured to represent the Isle of Wight and Great Britain at the last  three junior worlds.”

Mikki Graham, front centre, with the Wight Jewels in practice at the Spring Cup 2012

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