Snap Fitness Didcot's Ice Skating CHAMPION
Halah Thomas, 16, from Drayton has been crowned County Champion in the Junior Ladies category at the Oxford Figure Ice Skating Open 2020, adding to her ever-growing list of national and international titles. Since she began working with a PT at Snap Fitness Didcot a year and a half ago, Halah’s performance has gone from strength to strength. With her sights set on the World Championships, this is only the beginning of Halah’s promising figure skating career.
Halah first caught the bug for figure skating at just five years old, when she joined a skate school. Aged six, Halah competed in her first ever national competition and after sailing through her skate school exams, she decided to take skating to the next level.
In early 2019 in the Advanced Novice category, Halah placed 4th in the country. In November 2019 she then ranked 11th in the country at Junior Ladies Level in the 2019 British Figure Skating Championships, despite it being her first competition and being up against older more experienced skaters. Halah’s figure skating has taken her all over the world, representing GB in countries such as Latvia, Slovenia and Croatia to name a few.
“Figure skating is a form of escapism for me” says Halah. “If I ever have a bad day I just come to the rink and clear my mind, it’s incredible the freedom it gives me”. It’s easy to see how Halah seeks this form of escapism from her impressively full-on schedule, training at Oxford Ice Rink 5-6 days a week, studying for her A-levels, all whilst trying to manage the busy social life of a 16-year-old. “It’s not always easy juggling everything and time management is key” admits Halah. “It’s funny to think that last year I was doing my GCSEs whilst trying to qualify for the British Championships, but I love being faced with a challenge. I always strive to put 110% effort into everything I do, not just in my skating but in my academics and my training sessions too”.
On top of her training programme at the ice rink, Halah has been working with PT Ciaran Vinten at Snap Fitness Didcot, completing two to three sessions a week for just over a year and a half. “I was first introduced to Ciaran after realising I needed to incorporate strength and conditioning work into my regime to take my skating to the next level” says Halah. “Ciaran’s been amazing, he communicates so well with my three trainers at the rink and they all work together to devise a training regime that meets all the requirements of my skating”.
Ciaran’s training plan consists of a combination of strength, resistance and agility work; focusing on compound exercises like squats and deadlifts, as well as core work to improve Halah’s stability when landing jumps. “In figure skating it’s important to have good lower body strength to perform those bigger jumps, but it’s also essential to be quick and agile to handle the explosive movements” says Halah. “It’s incredible the way Ciaran adapts the regular gym equipment purely from his own knowledge but also makes our sessions fun and enjoyable.
“Ciaran has been monumental to my success on the ice” says Halah. “Figure skating is a tough sport and takes a huge amount of resilience. Sometimes it can take years to master a jump and even then, you might have a bad day and it doesn’t happen. Ciaran has really helped foster my self-belief and keeps me in a strong positive mindset to not let any bad days affect my future performance”.
“When I first started training with Halah I had some basic knowledge on figure skating, but I did lots of my own research to really learn what ice skaters need off the ice” says Ciaran. “It was a bit of a challenge to grasp at first, but I’m so glad I did it to really be able to help Halah be the best she can be.
“Halah is like a little sister to me and I’m immensely proud of everything she has achieved. I try to be more than just her PT but a mentor and motivator. I always tell her she’s not just there to compete, she’s there to win. She’s got the heart of a lion and her mental strength is incredible. She works so hard and puts her all into her training. I truly believe there’s so much more to come and this is just the beginning for Halah”.
Halah also appreciates the strong sense of community at Snap Fitness. “When I competed in the British Championships, the staff live-streamed it in the gym,” she says. “Afterwards, I had lots of staff and members congratulating me, it was so lovely to have that support and know people are backing you”.
With her sights set on qualifying for the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating at the end of this year and to eventually compete in the Junior World Championships and the Olympics, the sky really is the limit for young Halah Thomas.
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