Coaches ridiculed Olivia Weedon as she stepped onto the ice last month in Lausanne, an hour later she had a youth Olympic medal around her neck.
Weedon, 17, from Twickenham, was Great Britain’s only female short track speed skater at Lausanne 2020, her first Winter Youth Olympics.
But despite qualifying for the Mixed NOC Team Relay with two personal best performances in the Women’s 1000m and 500m, she drew little expectation as the 16th and final female qualifier for the event.
Weedon said: “A couple of coaches from other teams were laughing at my team because I was the weakest qualified girl.
“But when we got to the final I knew we just had to focus as we only had to beat one team to get a medal.
“I finished my lap and it was just down to the last boy and girl to finish. All I was thinking was ‘just don’t fall over’.
“As soon as they crossed the line my face lit up.
“I am on cloud nine and it is extra nice to rub it in those coaches’ faces.”
Mixed NOC teams are made up of two male and two female athletes from different countries.
Weedon won her bronze medal with Ethan De Rose of New Zealand, Thomas Nadalini of Italy and women’s 1000m and 500m gold medallist at the games, Seo Whi Min from South Korea.
But her route to success has not been without strife after a string of injuries.
At the end of last summer and just before the season started Weedon tore her patellar tendon meaning she was not able to train fully.
She said: “I have had to work around my knee pain and try and find ways to train but not irritate my knee.
“That is really hard because in short track you are constantly using your knees.
“Coming into the games I felt I was going to be less strong as I have done less training than other athletes.
“My target was to come in the middle of the field and just skate as well as I can.
“But to come away with two personal bests and a bronze medal is more than I could have ever hoped for.
“I honestly didn’t think it would go this way, I could not be happier.”
Weedon’s uncle is two-time short track speed skating world championship bronze medallist Jon Eley, and while she is hoping to follow in his footsteps, she is taking each day as it comes.
She said: “I would like to think that without the injury I could go better.
“The next step is to do my A-levels and consider university but the dream is still the Olympics.
“Beijing 2022 will probably come too soon but I have my eyes set on Milan 2026.
“I am looking to move up to Nottingham to train with the short-track performance programme.
“Hopefully I can improve there and one day qualify for the real Olympics.”