Florence full of positives from her Olympic Games experience

Florence Bell in the mountains at the Winter Olympic Games. Pic by William Cherry/Sportsfile.
Florence Bell in the mountains at the Winter Olympic Games. Pic by William Cherry/Sportsfile.

Florence Bell - the alpine ski racer born in England but representing Ireland at the Winter Olympic Games due to Tandragee roots - was always going to measure success on a scale outside of medals.

The 17-year-old competitor travelled to Russia as the only female on Team Ireland and one of the youngest in the field. Her experience levels alone left the teenager with an alternate viewpoint of a successful Olympic Games.

“I finished just one run from three appearances and was frustrated by some of the mistakes but, overall, view the Olympics as a positive experience,” she said. “I had a lot of fun and felt my performance levels improved as the weeks progressed.

“I was disappointed not to have the opportunity to really show that development in my competitve outings across the Giant Slalom or Slalom but can take the positives from the overall event.

“I failed to finish my first run in the Giant Slalom so that left me unable to take part in the next outing.

“In the Slalom, I finished the first run but was disappointed with the second.

“However, from training to the final event I was pleased with my progress and can move forward having continued to develop.”

Florence had plenty of family support at the Sochi tournamnet, with Brian - her father - responsible for the connection to Tandragee that led to the bright talent switching her allegiance to Ireland at youth level.

“My mum Jane and sister Victoria (also an international with Ireland) were also out in Russia, although I did not really see them too much between events due to a five-hour round-trip required from the family accommodation to our course,” she said. “The scale of the whole Olympic Games was amazing and I will always think back with wonderful memories to the opening ceremony.

“The stadium for the opening ceremony has a capacity of 40,000 and the atmosphere inside was amazing.

“We were all so nervous before walking out but got a great reception and I really enjoyed bonding with my team-mates and mixing with the other athletes.

“i did not know until we arrived that the athletes would get divided across three villages and our mountain camp had snowboarders in it and a few others.

“The big shock was the temperature, with 15 degrees at times on the mountain area and that was way too hot for the snow.

“The heat was a major talking point between the athletes but, from my viewpoimt, I just kept my focus on doing what I could to improve.

“Although I was not too happy with my results, overall I still view it as a brilliant experience.”