Byline: NEIL WILSON
MARIKA Humphreys has been changing her men to make her Olympic dream come true - and, finally, it has paid off.
Humphreys, 24, and the latest of her ice dance partners, her Ukrainian-born husband Vitaliy Baranov, were at the British Figure Skating Championships at Basingstoke yesterday when they heard that the British Olympic Association had bowed to the pleading of skating officials to select them as Britain's ice dancers at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City in February.
You might think they were showing compassion to a woman whose heartbreaking wait to make an entrance on the Olympic stage began when she was frozen out by the great duo of Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean. But there was none of that. This was a hard-nosed verdict based only on the facts of the case, said the British Olympic Association. Its spokesman said: 'The history of the couple and their sport had no bearing on the decision.' Had Humphreys and Baranov, also 24, not been selected, it would have been the first time Britain had not been represented in Olympic ice skating - the end of an illustrious line that stretched back to Britain's first champion, Madge Syers, in 1908.
But it was the couple's history that should have melted the hearts of officialdom.
Humphreys missed out first in 1994, when the Olympics were in Lillehammer, Norway.
The then 16-year-old and her first partner, Justin Lanning, were the 1993 British champions and expected to fill the one Olympic place open to Britain.
But Torvill and Dean announced they were making an Olympic comeback after a 10-year professional career, took the Olympic place and the bronze medal.
Lanning was so disenchanted he quit the partnership and moved to Canada.
Far from quitting, Humphreys found another partner, Philip Askew, and, with Torvill and Dean off the scene again, won back the British title. But when the couple missed out by a single place on …