Skillful Poole pipped from podium

17 February 2016

ICE HOCKEY: Australian Ice Hockey player Madison Poole has finished fifth in a nail-biting Skills Challenge final at the Lillehammer 2016 Youth Olympic Games.

The 15-year-old from Perth finished the six tests with 12 points, the same as fourth and one point off bronze.  

Japan’s Sena Takenaka won the gold with 16 points, Anita Muraro of Italy who was seeded eighth won silver (14 points) and Austrian Theresa Schafzahl the bronze on 13.

Poole, playing in number 13, produced some personal best performances but couldn’t find that extra luck she needed to get on the podium, in an outstanding competition.

“All the girls really stepped it up out there across all the skills,” Poole said.

“The bar was raised from qualifying here in Lillehammer and since the qualification event back in Finland.

“I’m disappointed to not get a medal of course but I did my best fastest shot, best fastest lap and even my agility time was better.

“It’s a big weight off my shoulders now. It’s all done and dusted and I can relax and enjoy the Village with the rest of the Team.”

Poole got off to a flying start in the Fastest Lap, her favourite event, to win the maximum four points. She produced a personal best lap of 17.92 seconds to knock off her biggest threat in this test from Japan in the semi-final.

In the Shooting Accuracy that followed she had had one win, before being beaten in the semi-final. Her score of seven points after two events had her sitting second behind Muraro.

Up next was the Skating Agility where she went head to head with the Italian. Poole produced a personal best time of 14.16 seconds but it wasn’t enough to progress. The Italian was off to a great start and went on to win the final with 13.60, to increase here lead by 11 points to 7.

Poole’s weak skill, the Fastest Shot, was next and she was bundled out by the powerful Norwegian. It was another PB for Poole with 86.5 km/hr so she was smiling.

With two events to go Poole was fourth with eight points, behind Italy clear on 12 and Norway and Japan with nine.

In the Passing Precision she was ahead but couldn’t get the final target and again only picked up the one point.

Visibly dejected on the bench the Australian picked herself up and showed great spirit to make the final of Puck Control to round out the competition. Takenaka again didn’t falter and showed she was the deserved gold medallist.

“I’m so happy for Japan, she did so well,” Poole, who was the first to congratulate her competitor, said.

This may not be the last event that Poole plays here in Norway. The athletes and coaches are trying to organise a game between all of the 32 skills players, across the men’s and ladies.

Poole will also take her place in the Australian Team alongside her sister, who has been cheering here in Lillehammer, for the senior World Championships in Spain.

Also in the senior Team is Sharnita Crompton who won bronze at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck in 2012.

Andrew Reid

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