Sochi 2014: Robin Cousins on his sporting life

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Robin Cousins is a figure skater who won gold at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. He also won the European title and claimed a silver at the World Championships. After turning professional he took part in on-ice performances and competitions for 20 years. He talks to Get Inspired about his sporting life.

My earliest memory of ice skating was when I was six. I was on holiday in Bournemouth and it was magical moment seeing people skate.

There was a rink being built where I lived in Bristol. I used to want to drive past it on the way to having my hair cut. I then asked for lessons for Christmas.

I wanted to be like Gene Kelly. I don't know if it was a feel for the ice or flair but I loved to leap and twirl. Gymnastics would have been natural but skating took gymnastics and dancing and rolled it into one.

I was impetuous, too tall and would never make it. Well, that's what one of the coaches reckoned. I loved the fact the classes were all about me.

It was the challenge and the speed that I loved. I skated as fast as I could, then throw myself as high as I could into the air without ever worrying about the consequences of coming down.

I skated with reckless abandon as a kid. It got contained as an Olympic athlete - but that was still the reason I was successful. It wasn't what I did, it was how I did it.

My parents couldn't tell you what I did on the ice. But they supported me and knew I spent my time well on the ice and respected my coach, who they were paying.

We weren't allowed to do the big double jumps until we'd done the singles perfectly. That irked me the most but coach Pam Davies, who had trained in Birmingham alongside John Curry, made us learn the craft. She was the reason I was able to have a great career.

I was always a performer first and a competitor second. I was always wanting to show off, be on a podium and have a medal.