A Worksop woman who took up skating aged nearly 50 has credited the sport with helping her lose weight – and has now seen her compete on an international stage.
Wendy Olivant, now 53, started having ice skating lessons at the age of 48, before her children entered her into a Dancing on Ice style competition for novice skaters, and she soon began to reap the rewards.
She lost more than a stone and a half in weight in less than six months whilst training for the Real Yorkshire Ice Factor at iceSheffield, and, despite not winning the competition, she has gone on to achieve success of her own and says the sport has given her a new lease of life.
Wendy, who runs her own award winning photography studio with her husband in Worksop, now attends iceSheffield up to four times a week, having lessons with coach, David Hartley, twice a week and spending time on the practice pads at least once.
She has since taken part in the British Adult Championships at iceSheffield and, in 2013, competed internationally for the first time in France at the Coupe des Druids - an Adult Free Skating and Ice Dance Competition - where she came second in the Free Skating category.
Wendy lives with her husband David and has two children – Hannah, aged 17, and Chris, aged 19. She said: “It was a challenge taking up skating at my age but the benefits are amazing and it’s been the best thing I’ve ever done.”
“I didn’t get into it thinking I was going to lose weight, so that has been a real bonus. Because I am still skating at least three times a week, I’ve also been able to maintain the weight loss, but the best thing is it doesn’t feel like exercise.”
“I lost both my parents just before I took part in the Ice Factor and skating definitely helped me through a really difficult time. It gave me something to focus on and really helped to relieve tension.”
“I find that skating is my escape. Whenever day to day life is getting on top of me, half an hour on the rink usually sorts me out.”
“I never thought when I started out that I would be taking part in national and international competitions, let alone winning trophies! It just goes to show that it’s never too late to learn a new skill.”
David Hartley, Wendy’s coach at iceSheffield, said: “From day one, Wendy showed real promise on the ice. She had the determination and dedication to do well, which are both extremely important in skating and she has come on in leaps and bounds since first taking to the ice.”
“It’s fantastic that she is getting so much enjoyment out of skating and, as she has shown, the health benefits can be amazing. She is proof that you can take up a sport like skating at any age and benefit from it hugely, both physically and mentally.
“She should be an inspirational role model for many people out there who are thinking about taking up skating, whether it be to lose weight and get fit or just to set yourself a new challenge.”
For more information about learning to skate at iceSheffield, visit www.icesheffield.com, follow @ice_sheffield on Twitter or visit https://www.facebook.com/iceSheffield.