WHATEVER our current weather conditions, skiing has never figured much on the Border sporting calender so to have a snow sport champion among us is a major coup indeed.
And, considering 19-year-old Georgina Kelly only took up her winter pursuits a year ago, her achievements are well worth singing, as well as writing about.
A former pupil of Kelso High School, Georgina joined the army in March 2012 and was the fittest woman recruit at her passing-out parade in June.
As a result she was selected to take part in the Army Winter Sports Association women’s biathlon and Nordic skiing competitions and went to train in Norway before Christmas. She has since competed in Austria, and France and has just returned from Bavaria with a total haul of nine gold, one silver and three bronze medals to her name.
Speaking to TheSouthern about her skiing experiences, fitness fanatic Georgina, a gunner in 14 Regiment Royal Artillery, said: “I was chosen to go skiing with my regiment by our troop staff. I’d never done any skiing at all so it was going to be a whole new experience and opportunity to travel, so I took it.
“Training took place in Norway which is the first leg of the season. It was particularly hard with temperatures as low as -25, sometimes less – it made training very difficult.
“Sometimes it would be too cold or snowy to train so instead we would do a circuit inside or work on technique the best we could inside. From there we had 10 days leave for Christmas before the first Army Winter Sport Association races in Austria then on to France.”
Georgina did so well in her first major competitions that she achieved qualification for the main event of the season in Rupholding, Germany, in the Nordic skiing (skiing and skating) and biathlon (skating and shooting) events.
She admitted that it wasn’t all plain sailing as she battled to conquer the various techniques involved.
“I didn’t really struggle with anything in particular it just was very frustrating to get the technique to start with,” she said.
“Finding your balance is probably the worst bit. I star-fished down a few hills, it was like something out of You’ve Been Framed.”
Despite these early setbacks Georgina prevailed and has a gold for best junior novice among her considerable medal haul.
“I feel very privileged and a massive sense of achievement,” she said. “I really didn’t expect to win anything at all in any of the countries, let alone be good at this sport, it was a massive shock.”
No stranger to hard work, Georgina left Kelso High School with five highers and still managed to fit in plenty time to keep her fitness up. She went to the local running club where she was coached by Keith Lyall four to five times a week in sprints and distance runs. She ran for the school too, in the Scottish Schools Championships every year and sports days where she returned with either a new PB or a medal.
Swimming training with Jim Currie has also paid off as in a recent army event Georgina came first in the female triathlon. On Monday evenings, judo was the preferred option and after gaining a blue belt she wants to work towards black.
While at home Georgina lives with her mum, dad and two younger brothers.
She added: “They have all been so supportive of me joining the army, in my sports and school work. In the future I’d love to represent the army in any one of the sports I do, become a professional athlete and make my family and friends proud.”