THERE’S something very intriguing about a sport that is as famous for its crashes as anything else, but for Kathryn Thomson its all part of the sport that she loves and something that she takes in her stride.

Thomson is one of Britain’s most promising short-track speed skaters and the 20 year-old has grown considerably in stature over the past few years as she has established herself as a regular in the GB team.

Her start to the 2016-17 season was near perfect; she set a personal best in the 1000m in the World Cup event in Calgary last month but even more pleasing was her improved capacity to deal with the argy-bargy that goes on in every race which often leads to those aforementioned crashes.

“It was a pretty fantastic start to the season,” she says. “I learnt a lot of tactical things during that race – in the past, I’ve not been great with the hustle and bustle during races; the overtaking and going up the inside – the small, nippy moves. But this time, I really committed to the moves and it paid off.”

Even casual observers of the sport will recall Thomson’s compatriot, Elise Christie, crashing out of the Winter Olympics two years ago and Thomson admits that it is not an easy task to banish entirely from one’s mind the thought of crashing.

Skaters can reach 30mph during races meaning that decisions must be made in a fraction of a second and Thomson has noticed her decision-making skills improving drastically as she gains experience on the global circuit.

“I speak to my coach beforehand and we’ll talk through a couple of loose race plans but I have to be pretty adaptable,” she says. “I try to be ready for anything because it’s a lot of split-second decision-making; you have to react really quickly because often, if you wait, you’ve missed your chance. A lot of that is race experience and I feel like I’m getting better at making those decisions – this time last year, I’d hesitate and miss the opportunity whereas this season, I’ve been going for it and it’s paying off already. So hopefully by this time next year, it’ll be even better.”

Thomson may still be only 20 but she has already been a GB athlete for four years.

At the tender age of just 16, she took the life-changing decision to move from her hometown of Kilmarnock to the British short-track base in Nottingham.

“It was a huge thing for me to move and I really struggled with being homesick,” she says. “After my first year, I went home for the off-season and I was thinking that I really didn’t want to go back down south.

“But I decided to grit my teeth and go for it; I said to myself – I’ve made a decision to move to Nottingham because I’m chasing my dream so I stuck with it and I’m so glad that I did that. I still get homesick sometimes but I’m getting more used to it now.”

GB currently boasts some of the world’s top speed skaters, including world championship medallist and Thomson’s fellow Scot, Elise Christie.

For some, it could be somewhat dispiriting to train with one of the best athletes in the world every day but Thomson finds that it has the opposite effect on her.

“It’s not demoralising at all to train with someone like Elise – it’s so motivating,” she says. “It’s great being part of the GB squad – it’s really inspiring to watch the older athletes train because they’re so good.

“It’s also a good benchmark because you see where they are and you know that they’re at the top of the sport so it’s good to be able to measure where I am.”

Thomson’s short-term targets are this month’s World Cup events in Asia, the first of which begins today in Shanghai, as well as the European Championships at the start of January in which she is scheduled to compete.

But her major target is the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang which is now only 14 months away.

With the qualification criteria being so tough, Thomson knows that her selection is not a given but she is aware of how vital competing in an Olympic Games could be for her development.

“It’s going to be hard to qualify for Pyeongchang but I do think it’s possible,” she says. “I’m quite good at putting all of the outside pressures out of my head and just focusing on racing but the Olympics is definitely already in my mind.

“It would mean the world to get there – it would make all this hard work worth it. And getting to Pyeongchang would really motivate me to continue improving and hopefully get a medal at a future Games – that’s my long-term goal.

“When I see my teammates standing on the podium, I always think that I cannot wait for that to be me.”