A Newham teenager has been called up to represent Great Britain at the Winter Youth Olympics in South Korea later this month.
Ricards Misins, 15, is currently in Gangwon, preparing to compete as part of Team GB’s U16 men’s squad in the 3v3 ice hockey discipline.
Misins, who has been playing ice hockey since the age of four and currently plays for the Haringey Hounds Junior team, was selected for the 13-strong squad from a pool of more than 50 players.
His call up was all the more impressive given that Misins missed the initial trial stage after suffering a broken shoulder in training last year that kept him off the ice for three months.
Reflecting on his selection, Misins said: “It was special for me because this time last year I was recovering from my injury.
“Luckily a coach I know from the training facility in Bracknell where I train once a week invited me to the trial and I was then referred by other coaches.
“So to finally make the squad is a great feeling.”
Comprising 81 events across seven different sports, the event will also mark the first time 3v3 ice hockey has featured without mixed nationality teams following its debut at the Games four years ago in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Played on a smaller rink than the traditional 6v6 format, the 3v3 version permits each team three outfield players and one keeper, known as a goaltender, on the ice at any one time.
Matches consist of three periods of 16 minutes, with games lasting a total of 48 minutes.
The tournament, which starts on 20 January, will be played in a round robin format, with the top four teams from a group of eight advancing to the semi-finals before the gold medal match on 25 January.
Great Britain begin their campaign against Austria at the Gangneung Hockey Centre, followed by games against Latvia, Denmark, Poland, Spain, Chinese Taipei and Kazakhstan.
Misins, who often trains in his father’s native Latvia during the summer months, knows all too well the calibre of opposition Team GB will face in their bid for a medal.
But the talented youngster insists the mood in the camp could not be better.
He said: “Obviously there are going to be some really strong teams that are going to push us.
“But preparation has been good and we’ve got a really tight-knit group.
“The team and the coaches, we’re all hoping to win gold.”
That push for glory at the Games is also felt by those cheering him on back home, with Haringey Hounds club chair Ildar Khafizov hailing Misins’ achievement as inspiring.
Khafisov said: “We are all so proud of Ricards and his Olympic Journey.
“He has worked hard, has been grinding and hustling, and now he’s going to be out there doing his thing on the global stage.
“Our club is like a family, and seeing one of our own chase their dreams is truly inspiring.
“We want him to soak it all in, and we’ll be cheering for him to bring home that gold medal.”
Team GB’s Olympic opener against Austria gets underway at 12pm (3am UK time) on 20 January.
Feature image credit: Uldis Misins