The Kerrs: A Scottish Blend
By Melissa Gillougley, Melanie Eley
Photos © SineadandJohn.com
Melissa Gillougley, a young skater from Kyle in Scotland, spoke to Sinead & John earlier this year following the 2007 European Championships, and found out what Sinead and John miss most about living away from home. Read on and find out other interesting facts about the Scots' finest ice-dancers.
Firstly, huge congratulations are in order for you both. Fifth at the Europeans - that's a great achievement.
Did you imagine you'd be reaching this stage a few
It was always a dream just to get to European championships!
But every year we make different targets for ourselves, so
top 5 this year was our ultimate goal. It's only when
I sit afterwards and look back that I realise what a big achievement
I think if you had told me back in 2000, when Sinead and I started skating together, that we would get in to the top 5 in Europe in 2007, we probably would have called you crazy. Back then my ambition was just to win a British Championship with Sinead so we have already taken it a lot further than I thought we could back then.
What did it feel like, as you stood at the side waiting, before you went on to perform your free dance?
Did last minute nerves kick in?
For this particular event, I felt very confident and ready.
Some times, I am more nervous than others. I think I was annoyed
at myself for feeling very nervous the previous day, so I
was determined not to let it affect me this time!
I tend to get more nervous in the hours just before a big
performance rather than at the very last minute. Just before
we skated I told myself 'you've done this right a
hundred times in practise so just do it like that'. If
you have done well in training it gives you a lot of confidence
for the actual performance.
After you'd found out you were 5th,
what did it feel like?
What felt great was that knowing placing 5th meant we would be part of the gala the next day, where only the top five in each event were invited. It was a prestigious event to be part of and felt very special.
I think I was more satisfied than elated because
we had said, coming in to the event, that top 5 was what we
expected of ourselves. To achieve that goal was really satisfying
and it makes me hungrier to achieve an even better result
At the end of last year, you moved to your new coach Evgeny Platov, and currently train in New Jersey, USA.
Was it an easy decision to make, to move away from home?
It wasn't easy at all, but in another
way, felt so right that we knew we would have no regrets.
We would only regret not giving it a go.
It was probably the most difficult decision I have had to
make in my life. We were leaving a very settled and comfortable
situation in the UK because we felt we had to do something
dramatic to take our career to the next level. After much
deliberation, and with the financial backing of UK Sport,
we felt moving to the US to work with Evgeny was the right
decision and also the tough decision.
Have you had to change your way of living, since you've
We have had to be more self-sufficient which has more to
do with moving away from home than moving country!
Yeah I have to do all my own laundry now which isn't
much fun. I did consider posting it home and have my mum post
it back but I decided against it. Driving on the right [side
of the road] took a bit of getting used to as well but, thankfully,
I haven't crashed in to anyone, yet.
I know that when I'm abroad that I really miss a
good old cup of tea and Scottish accents! Is there anything
you particular miss from home?
I miss going in to town shopping with my mum! And my own
I miss my family and my girlfriend most of all. Luckily my
mum brought loads of Scottish Blend [tea bags] so at least
we won't miss out on a nice cup of tea.
What do you ultimately aspire to achieve in the run up
to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics?
To be seen as a medal contender in the run- up.
The ultimate goal is a medal at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
Ok, so back before it all took off for you guys, did you
ever have any idea that you'd have skating as your career,
or did you have a different career in mind?
I had thought briefly about journalism but skating was always at the front of my mind and it was hard to see past it.
I never really got round to thinking seriously about another career but then again I never really thought that skating would be my career either. I'm lucky because very few people can have a career in competitive skating.
While you were still at school and skating, was there
any point at which the stresses of skating got to you, and
did you ever feel like hanging your skates up for good?
I went through a tough stage when it was exam time and had
to learn to prioritise my time correctly.
When I was at school I did sometimes get hassled for being
a 'male' figure skater. I did find it very difficult
to handle sometimes and I did consider quitting just so that
I wouldn't get the grief anymore. Luckily for me, enough
people convinced me that if I quit then I would be allowing
those people to stop me from doing something that I loved.
What advice would you give to any skaters out there who
really want to achieve something big in the skating world?
Always have an ultimate dream, but take it each step at
a time. And know that the training of a skater is as tough
as the training of any athlete, so learn to enjoy hard work.
It will be worth it!
It's very important that you have a good coach and that
this coach understands your goals and ambitions. It's
definitely good to have dreams of achieving something big
in the skating world, but it's good to have realistic
short-term goals as well. Rather than dream just of being
an Olympic champion, you should try and build towards that
ultimate goal, for example, try and win your local club competition
before you try to win the World Championships.
Who's the nicest skater you've ever met? And who's
your favourite skater and why?
We have made a lot of friends on the circuit but Alexei
Tikhonov stands out as a really nice guy. Favourite skaters
are the Duchesnays as they introduced a whole new way of skating
within the discipline of ice dance - athletic, strong, passionate
and a bit rough round the edges.
There are a lot of really nice people in the skating world but I would say the nicest skater is probably Alexei Tikhonov, the Russian pair skater. He is such a gentleman and a truly great competitor. My favourite skaters of all time are the Duchesnays because their routines were so exciting and original. They totally re-defined ice dance because before them ice dance was very much based on ballroom dancing but their dancing had a very contemporary feel to it.
Finally, on a philosophical note, what's the best
advice you've ever been given on life and who gave you
Treat others how you would wish to be treated yourself.
I can't remember where I got it from but it's why
I'll always have time for our fans. Because I remember
when I was a fan!
'Always give everything in life your best shot'.
I think we have learnt this philosophy from our parents and
it's always how I've tried to live my life.
Salt & Vinegar or Cheese & Onion?
J - cheese & Onion
S - cheese & onion
Bath or Shower?
J - shower
S - relaxing in the bath - luxury!
Dogs or Cats?
J - dogs
S - dogs (if they're clean!)
Sunbathe or Sightsee?
J - sunbathe
S - sightsee
Coke or Irn-Bru?
J - Coke
S - Irn-bru
McDonalds or Burger King?
J - Burger King
S - hate both!
Lost or Desperate Housewives?
J - Lost
S - Lost
Late Night or Early Morning?
J - late night
S - early morning
Paris or Venice, where's more romantic?
J - Venice
S - Venice
New York or LA?
J - New York
S - New York
Kisses or Hugs?
J - hugs
S - hugs
Save or Spend?
J - Spend
S - spend, spend, spend!
Night in with a DVD or night out to the cinema?
J - cinema
S - night in with DVD
Who would win in a duel, Batman or Spiderman?
J - Batman
S - Batman
If you were stranded on an island and could only wear socks or underwear for the rest of your stay, which would you choose and why?
S - underwear - i'd want an even tan on my feet!
J - I'd say socks because if your rescuers arrived and you needed to cover your modesty then you could always use one of the socks lol. Also, I tend to get cold feet...