05:25AM, Wednesday 29 January 2014
An ice dancer from Maidenhead will be competing on the world's biggest stage when she dons her skates for the Winter Olympics in Russia.
Penny Coomes will be heading to the games in Sochi on Sunday with her skating partner Nick Buckland fresh from winning a bronze medal at the European Championships in Budapest this month.
The former pupil at Wessex Primary School in St Adrians Close, Cox Green and at Cox Green Secondary School, Highfield Lane, is hoping to follow in the footsteps of her heroes Torvill and Dean.
It will be her second taste of competition in the Winter Olympics after taking part in Vancouver in 2010.
The 24-year-old, who used to live in Larchfield Road and Treesmill Road, said: "I think figure skating and ice dancing is the oldest Olympic sport so it's quite good to have that history there as well as the British success in the sport with Torvill and Dean.
"I am really proud that I am competing in a sport that has been historically popular in Great Britain and we hope to bring it back to the public's attention."
Although she went to ballet classes at Desborough School in Shoppenhangers Road and attended Cox Green Community Centre, Penny's lasting love has been for ice skating after watching skaters at Bracknell Leisure Centre as a child.
Her mother, Jane, bought her a pair of ice skates and started taking her to courses at Slough Ice Arena. Since then she has never looked back.
"When I saw those ice skaters, I fell in love with the sport and spent all my time sliding across supermarket floors. It just became an obsession."
Though born and raised in Maidenhead, Penny's family are now based in Nottingham where she spends her time when she is not training in New Jersey.
She retains strong Maidenhead connections with aunties, uncles and grandparents still living in Maidenhead.
She said: "I feel so lucky, I have the best family in the world.
"I didn’t come from a family with a lot of money and the sport I do is very expensive but they all contributed to what I was doing.
"Everyone has helped and I feel thankful that I had such a supportive family because there were times when everyone pitched in and helped me get there.
"They have been there from the start so it's nice to see all my hard work and the times they have saved for me have paid off."
Looking to the future, Penny is aiming to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, where she hopes to win a medal.
"Our sport is a little bit different because it's not the same as being the first to cross the finishing line. It takes time so Nick and I are hoping to skate as well as we can in Sochi and get some personal bests.
"We're looking at this one as a big stepping stone to winning a medal in 2018, that's our target game."
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