Matthew ready for Sochi Olympics challenge

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A North Shields figure skater is preparing to represent his country at this year’s Olympics.

Matthew Parr, who has been national champion four times, will be the first British male figure skater to compete at the Winter Olympics since three-time Olympian Steven Cousins.

The 23-year-old first took up skating at Whitley Bay Ice Rink after watching his sister Danielle compete and now trains full-time at Dundee.

Parr said: “When the team competition was announced it was always going to be my best chance of getting to the Games.

“Our national ranking had to be high enough and I’m very grateful to the rest of the team because it’s really their performances really that have got me to Sochi.

“I always thought we would be in the top ten but it wasn’t until the final rankings were confirmed by the International Skating Union that we could really relax.

“The British Olympic Association still had to confirm they were going to take the space and it was such a relief when they did.”

Parr, who was named North Tyneside Sports Personality of the Year in 2010, secured his spot with a nervy win over domestic rivals Phillip Harris and Harry Mattick at the nationals in Sheffield.

“Whatever happens in Sochi the British Championships was probably the most pressure I’ve ever felt in my life,” he said.

“I hadn’t had a particularly good season, so going into the nationals I was really playing catch up and I knew I had to win by a certain margin.”

Matthew, who has been skating since he was seven and been on the British Olympic radar since he was 11, will be cheered on at the Olympics by his family and friends.

His mother Gill said: “It has always been his dream to make it to the Olympics.

“He trained at Whitley Bay Ice Rink then the better he got he moved away to a full-time coach. He has been training at Dundee since he was 15.

“Matthew comes home every five or six weeks and when he does he will always go back to Whitley Bay Ice Rink. It’s one of the few chances I get to see him skate.”