Jenna McCorkell gave it her all... but Sochi Olympic dream ends
IT's the end of an era. Jenna McCorkell's dream of Winter Olympics glory is over after she missed out on qualifying for today's free skating competition by just one place.
There was heartbreak in Sochi last night for the most successful female figure skater Northern Ireland has ever produced, as the Team GB sportswoman finished 25th on the table with a score of 48.34.
Jenna (27) needed a top 24 slot to progress to the free skating contest today.
The Coleraine athlete began her individual challenge on Wednesday afternoon after having already been in action on the ice in the team competition on February 8.
She skated fifth out of 30 competitors and had to endure a nail-biting wait to the very end of the event to see if she stayed in the top 24.
When the last skater of the day – Japan's Mao Asada – took to the ice, Jenna was still hanging on with a chance in 24th place.
Alas, it was not to be, as the top performing skater Yuma Kim from Korea scored 74.92.
It is now thought Jenna will retire after her next competition following 20 years in the sport.
The inspirational athlete has been supported by Sport Northern Ireland since 2001.
Last night a spokesman for Sport NI said: "Jenna is not only a very talented athlete but has been a fantastic sporting ambassador and role model for Northern Ireland over the years.
"In November last year Jenna won the silver medal in the Volvo Open Cup in Riga and also won the British Senior Championship for the 11th time.
"Sport Northern Ireland would like to wish Jenna all the very best."
Heather Moore, director of leisure services at Castlereagh Borough Council, said that interest in the sport has soared since the Sochi Winter Games opened.
"Jenna started her skating career at Dundonald International Ice Bowl and is the only skater from Northern Ireland to represent Great Britain at the Winter Olympic Games," she said.
"She is a magnificent ambassador for local sport and her success on the ice is a true inspiration to the many young skaters at the facility who strive to follow in her footsteps."
On social media, friends and fans were filled with pride at Jenna's performance.
"So proud of Jens – what an inspiration to any young up and coming skater. Plenty of blood, sweat and tears have went into skating through the years. Glad to see that famous smile today. Well done Jenna," wrote Aaron McCorkell.
"Well done missus. That was brilliant. I shed a wee tear at end," said Stacy McClarty.
Sharon Street wrote on Twitter: "Well done Jenna, brilliant skate, you have made us all so proud."
Jenna McCorkell (27) is the most successful female ice skater Northern Ireland has ever produced. An 11-time British Figure Skating Champion, she first took to the ice at age seven at the Jet Centre in her home town of Coleraine. Aged 10, she became the youngest skater to make it to the National GB Squad and has remained there since. In the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver she fell in her opening routine and left the ice in tears. It's thought she will retire soon.