Karla Quinn has just achieved what no-one, including Karla, could have envisaged only 10 months ago. For this time last year, the young teenager was preparing to go into hospital for an operation - her skating career put on hold!
However, this week Karla (pictured right) who is funded by Sport Northern Ireland, heard the news that she had just been selected to represent GB at the John Curry Memorial Grand Prix event in Sheffield, England, Thursday 18 - Sunday 21 Oct. After performing exceptionally well in August at the Junior IJS event in London, taking the bronze medal, she had left the selectors with a dilemma. However, this week, as the news broke that Karla had been selected for the event, a spokesperson for the skater commented:
"This is fantastic news for Karla, and is well deserved. Many people wonder what the difference is between the Grand Prix circuit and other international events - well it is the difference between the 'donkey derby' and the 'grand national'! This puts you on the Junior World circuit and to reach Grand Prix level is what every athlete tries to achieve.
Karla has competed in the past at Junior Grand Prix level, but to be selected this year, which was her development year, is unprecedented and is the icing on the cake for Karla.
Her hard work and her determination not to submit to illness nor injury, surely demonstrates outstanding qualities which are essential to compete at this high level."
Karla's coach Margaret O'Neill is very proud of her protégé;
"Karla has exceeded my expectations this year, improving with each outing. Setbacks have been minor, and her fitness is back ahead of schedule, so I am delighted for her. She has worked extremely hard and it has paid off, I cannot stress what an honour this is."
Whilst Karla now prepares for her top event, she has also just received news that she has been short-listed for Sportsperson of the Year by Ballymoney Council. Karla's PR Consultant commented:
"This has been a wonderful week for Karla. It is such an honour when others recognise your achievements. This young athlete has earned the respect of her peers and coaches alike, so to be recognised by her local Council by this nomination demonstrates the large fan base that Karla has accumulated in recent years. She has been one of the few ice skaters from Ireland that has been able to lift the sport to a World Class level and it is no longer a minority sport because of skaters like her. The ability to believe in herself has been tested to the full, but sometimes these things can make you stronger."