Special Report: Skating for gold - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Special Report: Skating for gold

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ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Could a future winter Olympic star come from right here in south Georgia? It's not as far-fetched as it may sound.

Some young athletes are training right now in Albany with the goal of one day skating for the gold.

This 12-year-old blur on wheels is Tanner Watts. He started skating about the time he started walking.

"I've been skating since I was 11 months old, but I've been speed skating since I was four," recalled Watts.

Tanner has turned into one of the best inline skaters his age in the country. Last year at the USA Roller Sports National Championships he broke a national record that stood for 11 years.

"Whenever you beat them," said Watts, "it makes you feel good about yourself. We keep each other motivated while we're skating."

Tanner practices three days a week with his GT Speed team. He spends time at least three other days a week training.

"We work on plyometrics and speed and agility, and then at home we have a spin bike, and so we cycle," explained Watts.

Tanner is not alone. His little sister Jayden is an up and coming skater who made it to nationals last year too.

"We train everyday, and we try to train as hard as we can so that we can go to the Olympics" said Jayden.

Tanner has that goal too, but he doesn't just want to make an Olympic team.

"I really want a gold medal," he asserted.

Can an inline skater from the south win a winter Olympic gold medal? Watts' dad Jason says it's possible. He is also the pair's coach.

Some of the best American long and short track skaters in Sochi grew up inline skating in the south.

"There's three or four people that are team members. They started in our region." said Jason Watts.

He says the skills they're perfecting now will transfer to the ice, especially in short track skating.

"The racing is very similar," explained Jason. "[There's] tight cornering. They have accidents. People fall just maneuvering."

The siblings have only been on ice skates a time or two. They say it didn't go over very well. But they do know they have the fundamentals to be good ice skaters.

"I like to win. I hate to lose," said Tanner Watts. "When I lose, it just makes me want to train more."

"I try to get focused and train really hard," Jayden chimed in.

That commitment and desire could one day send one of these south Georgians skating for the gold.

The GT Speed team practices and competes all year. If you're interested in joining the team call the Stardust 2 Skate Center.

Tanner and Jayden plan to compete in a southern regional meet in Florida in May and hope to make it to nationals in Nebraska in July.

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