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Coomes and Buckland qualify for Winter Olympics after coming through 'hardest year'

FIFTEEN months after being told she would not compete again after shattering her kneecap in training, Maidenhead’s Penny Coomes has qualified for the Winter Olympic games with dance partner Nick Buckland.

The pair registered a career-best score of 177.13 points to win their final qualifying event at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, booking their spot in Pyeonchang, South Korea next February in the process.

On Tuesday their place was confirmed by the British Olympic Association.

Coomes, from Maidenhead, returned to competitive action with Buckland in August after the pair missed their primary chance to qualify at the World Championships earlier in the year. They won the IJS Sheffield event on their return to the ice.

On Saturday they scored 105.34 in the free dance routine in Germany, which when added to their 71.79 from Thursday’s short dance routine was enough to give them a career-best total.

Silver medallists Kana Muramoto and Chris Reed of Japan and third-placed Kavita Lorenz and Joti Polizoakis of Germany also earned Olympic spots for their performances.

Coomes’ period away from the ice clearly hasn’t lessened her competitive spirit. Next year’s event will be the third Winter Games the two 28-year-olds have competed at together and the duo are showing they still have what it takes to compete with the very best in the world.

“Qualifying for our third Olympic Games was made even more special as just over a year ago, we thought that dream had been taken away,” Coomes said. “After the hardest year of our career, we are grateful to have come back and skated two personal best performances that put us back in the mix with the best in the world.”

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