Teen skaters testing ability on world stage

ON THEIR WAY: South Canterbury Speed Skating Club's Analiese Le Roy, Guy McDonald and Nicole Begg are heading to South America.
ON THEIR WAY: South Canterbury Speed Skating Club's Analiese Le Roy, Guy McDonald and Nicole Begg are heading to South America.

Two new faces and one familiar one from South Canterbury have been selected to compete in the World Inline Speed Championships in Argentina.

Former world champion Nicole Begg, the only senior woman in the New Zealand team, will joined by two of her prodigies, Analiese Le Roy and Guy McDonald.

Fifteen-year-olds McDonald and Le Roy will both make their international debut at the worlds. They will be there for the experience as they have to compete in the 19 and under class.

Le Roy will race in the longer distances from 1000m upwards to possibly the 20km road race.

New Zealand's best chance of medal in the junior girls is with 17-year-old Jessica van Bentum, from Wanganui, who finished 6th in the 1000m final last year.

McDonald will focus on the sprints and 300m time trial and is likely to race in the relay with Christchurch's Ollie Jones and Kapiti's Josh Whyte.

McDonald has impressed over the season with steady improvement.

South Canterbury coach Bill Begg believes both McDonald and Le Roy will benefit hugely from the experience.

"They are both young but you can't beat being there among the world's best for motivation and see the top skaters in action."

Begg's daughter Nicole has plenty of world championships experience, having competed 10 times for two titles and 13 other medals.

Her last came in 2010 when she won the 1000m title but over the past two years she has been hampered by injury.

The men's squad is likely to feature the vastly experienced Kalon Dobbin, who has over a dozen world titles.

The 37-year-old was his younger brother Shane's coach at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Nicole Begg will head to Europe with three times 15,000m points elimination world champion Peter Michael to compete in the top events in Holland, France, Germany and Italy. The 26-year-old will focus on the marathons where she has been so successful in the past.

Van Bentum is also basing herself in Germany after putting her university career on hold. She will be part of the development squad run by the Arma Wheels team, a project founded and run by Kalon Dobbin.

The South Canterbury Speed Skating Club also has five skaters heading to the Nanwon International meeting in Korea over Easter.

Le Roy will be joined by fellow teenagers Sophie Lowen, Boudine Brown and Dana Penty. Eleven-year-old Ella Benson will also be making the trip after an outstanding year at several New Zealand championships.

Bill Begg said their trip was part of his plan to expose skaters to tough international competition but as it clashed with the Oceania Championships, they had to withdraw from the New Zealand team.

The Timaru Herald