sport

Buckland fit and raring to go

British figure skater Nick Buckland is enjoying a combination of fine form and fitness going into the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

After returning from the 2010 Games in Vancouver with ice dancing partner Penny Coomes, the 24-year-old from Nottingham was diagnosed with tachycardia - a form of arrhythmia, a condition in which the heart beats faster than normal.

He had an electronic device sewn into his flesh to monitor his heart rate and underwent surgery three months ago.

After winning a bronze medal in the European Championships in January, the Englishman insists it is all coming together nicely as he and Coomes look to better their 20th-placed finish from four years ago.

"It definitely helps feeling the confidence, and it is just peace of mind above everything else," Buckland said.

"The bronze medal, the operation, if all these different things hadn't happened I don't think we would be the team that we are now.

"Life tests you and it has made us stronger and I feel much stronger now I am here.

"It is going to benefit us now, it is going to benefit us in the World Championships and over the next four years.

"That bronze was our first big medal at a championship and we did it three weeks before the Olympic Games, so it couldn't have been better timing for us really.

"It has been a huge confidence boost because we have had about two weeks training in between the events, and I feel like we have come up to a different level and have experienced something that we hadn't before."

Buckland explained how his life and career has changed following his "weird" ailment.

"I only ever felt bad when it was literally happening," he said.

"I would feel fine, then my heart would click into this weird rhythm and I would feel disorientated and really weird.

"And then after it had happened for 15 or 20 minutes or whatever, it would stop and all of a sudden blood would rush all around my body and I would feel absolutely fine again.

"So really, all it is is a confidence thing. Now I know it is not going to happen and that I'm just going to feel the same as any other day when I'm training or competing."

Firstly, Buckland and Coomes will take part in the inaugural Olympic figure skating team event, alongside pairs duo, Stacey Kemp and David King, Jenna McCorkell and Matthew Parr.

However, after the first day's action on Thursday, in which Team GB ended up bottom of the 10-nation table with three points after Parr and King and Kemp performed , the second day on Saturday has become academic.

Coomes, however, will not be put under any pressure.

"I think if you worry too much about everyone else, you are not going to be focused on your own performance," she said. "So I'm not going to treat this any differently to how I would any other competition.

"I have to go on and do my job, and hopefully then I'll get the result I need, rather than if I was worrying about everybody else."

Buckland added: "The best thing for the team is for us to just skate well.

"So we just have to concentrate on trying to get as many points as we can from our competition."

McCorkell, is also focusing on her own individual event, where she hopes to beat her 29th-placed finish in Vancouver.

The 27-year-old said: "Now we are out here and we know a little bit more about it, understand how it works, the draw, how it is going to be, it is very exciting.

"On Saturday I have to skate my short programme like I would in practice every day, so I am not thinking too much outside the box, just keep myself focused for how I would prepare for any competition.

"If I could be in the top 15, I would consider it a success. I have been in the top 15 in the world already a couple of times."