SWINDON duo Zoe Jones and Chris Boyadji are hoping for success in Sheffield as they prepare for the British Figure Skating Championships this weekend.

The event is a first for the newly-formed pair, who only began skating together less than six months ago.

Jones, who first took up skating when the Link Centre was built in 1984, has left it late to take part in her first pairs competition aged 36.

The mum of eight-year-old twins Zhara and Zina and four-year old Zkay won the British Senior Championship in 2002, but stopped skating for 14 years in which time she had children.

The 36-year-old, who grew up in Freshbrook and now lives in North Swindon, says when she contacted Boyadji to enquire about being his new partner, she wasn’t confident of a response.

However, she was invited to take part in a try-out with Boyadji at Alexandra Palace in June, where she was eventually offered the chance to link up with the Frenchman.

“I retired for 14 years and came back to adult skating but my dream was always to do pairs and when Chris split with his partner, I contacted him,” said Jones.

“I wasn’t expecting to hear anything from him because the age of a skater is usually not 36. It’s a younger person’s sport.

“I’d watched Chris before and I knew he’d be a good partner. I went to the trial and expected a ‘you’re really good but you’re too old’ so I was gobsmacked he wanted to skate with me.”

Boyadji was looking for a new partner after splitting with Amani Fancy and the 26-year-old admits he was apprehensive about Jones’ age before skating with her.

“At the beginning when she wrote to me to ask to do a trial I nearly said ‘sorry that’s too old’ - you don’t see many 36-year-olds in the European and World Championships,” said Boyadji.

“I tried with other girls who were scared and shy, but Zoe wasn’t. She has more stamina than me and has a body of a 20-year-old. I was impressed with a lady of her age and the way she was skating close to me and she was enjoying it.”

Despite being born in Paris, Boyadji has now relocated to Swindon to train with his new partner at the Link Centre.

“I’ve trained in Italy, Germany and England but because I train with Zoe now, I had to move to Swindon,” added the 26-year-old.

“Relocating is part of being a skater, unless you find a partner in the same city as you, then one of you will have to relocate.”

Coach Mark Naylor had been working with Chris and his previous partner and was quick to spot the potential for the duo during their try-out.

“From my point of view, I was observing quite a bit and I was waiting for where there would be a limitation,” said Naylor.

“I didn’t want her if she was scared of being lifted, thrown or the other things you have to do as a pairs skater.

“She was up for everything and it was wonderful, so after a two-day try-out, we came to Swindon to see her in a home environment and she maintained the level of intensity which was beautiful.”

After watching the two on the ice, Naylor believes the emotive and intensive styles from Boyadji and Jones could form a fruitful partnership.

“They’re both very committed, Zoe is very softly spoken and she comes into her element when she’s on the ice and she brings an intensity,” he added.

“Christopher is an emotional skater so he has a great presence on the ice and from a technical point of view, he is phenomenal in his footwork and his lifts.

“He has a charm on the ice, which is very honest. Instead of being contrived and cringeworthy, they work off each other.”