CHARLOTTE Gilmartin was happy to blow off the cobwebs and settle her nerves after a solid Olympic debut in Sochi.
The 23-year-old short track speed skater progressed to Thursday’s 500m quarter-finals with a solid skate in her heat, staying out of trouble in a sport where thrills and spills are part of the territory, to finish second.
But Gilmartin, who clocked 44.440 seconds to finish just behind Holland's Jorien ter Mors, had to do things the hard way.
"It was a tough heat and it was a tough draw on the outside but I got the job done and I'm just really relieved," she said.
"I knew I had to do some overtaking and I've been practicing that in training and I've been working on getting that nailed.
"The pressure was really on but I can't have any complaints, I'm delighted."
Gilmartin – who will be joined in the semi-finals by British teammate Elise Christie – is playing down expectations, insisting her only goal in Russia is enjoying and learning from this first Olympic experience.
But she admits the pace of Olympic life – with limited events spread over a number of days – takes some getting used to.
"I came here knowing this was about building for the first Olympics. There is not much expectation on me and I just want to put in my best performance and see what happens," she added.
"Usually at short track events we have loads of races every day. Here we have just one race and then your day is over and tomorrow is a day off.
"I usually build into a competition and you don't get that option at the Olympics. You give it all you've got and then you get to rest. It's quite good in some ways but it's totally new to me."
Gilmartin isn't ranked inside the world's top 30 for the sprint distance and admits her best result is more likely to come over 1500m, in which she claimed bronze at last year's European Championships.
"I prefer the 500m because you go fast and see what happens but I've actually had better results in the 1500m," she added.
"Short track is about speed and I like being on the edge, which is why I like the 500m. However, the 1500m is about getting your tactics right and then you can dominate the race."
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