Ice skating: Newport teenager is a star in the making

A STUDENT at Newport Free Grammar School (NFG) has been named the British under-16 Ice skating champion.

Fourteen-year-old Annika Brogaard Maczka - together with her dance partner, Henry Aiken - was selected to attend international events in Austria and Hungary and won three gold medals in three weeks. She is now in the top 10 in Europe.

Annika, like her three siblings, has been skating since the age of two. She was inspired to follow her older sister, Melissa, who began skating in Denmark on a frozen lake with their mother and went on to win Solo Ice Dance Championship titles five times.

Annika was the youngest member of Chelmsford Riverside Ice Skating Club. She took part in annual Christmas ice shows and played Clara in the 2007 performance of The Nutcracker, the same year as she won the Novice Solo Ice dance Championship.

The teenager trains four times a week before school in Guildford, which means leaving at 3.15am to get back to Newport on time.

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When explaining why she does it, Annika says: “It’s all about the titles you achieve, the sights you see (such as the Christmas fair in Budapest) and friends you make.”

So what’s the secret to success? “Ice Dancing is all about timing, expression and technique,” she says.

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In the future she aims to work towards senior levels with a view to qualifying for future European and Olympic championships. She sees herself as a coach or a judge in the distant future.

Annika says that she is very happy at NFG. “I like the atmosphere and the people,” she said. “I particularly enjoy English, history and science.” Annika is certainly multi-talented; she has just taken her grade four violin exam.

NFG headteacher Sean O’Hagan, announcing Annika’s achievement at the school’s Christmas concert at the West Road concert hall in Cambridge, said: “This is a marvellous achievement. We are extremely impressed with Annika’s commitment and talent. It is remarkable that she has not only managed to do so well but has also kept up with her studies and her music.

“We are confident that she will continue to succeed and will continue to support her. It’s wonderful to have such an inspirational student at the school.”

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