A CANADIAN champion figure skater is made of Mackem stock.
Rachael Dobson is gliding to success having just won the Canadian Novice Pairs Figure Skating Championship.
The 13-year-old was born in Campbellville, Ontario, but parents Alan and Alison were born and bred in Sunderland and often come back to Wearside with Rachael.
Black Cats supporter Rachael said: “On my last trip to Sunderland, I enjoyed seeing all of the old buildings and castles as there aren’t many of those in Canada. I also enjoyed playing football on the beach at Roker, I used to play a lot for a team in Canada, but decided to stop at the end of last season and focus completely on skating.
“On my next trip to the UK I hope to watch Sunderland play at the Stadium of Light because I love to watch them on the TV.”
Alison’s mum, Martha Baldridge, 76, lives in Ayton, Washington.
“Rachael loves it in Sunderland,” she said.
“There are no beaches where she lives and for her and her brother to get down to the beaches at Roker and Seaburn, they think it is fantastic.”
Rachael won Ontario’s Pre-Juvenile Champion figure skater in 2011 and Juvenile Champion in 2012.
She took up pairs skating with her partner Alexander Sheldrick and this month won the Canadian Novice Pairs Figure Skating Championship.
“She is absolutely marvellous,” said Martha, whose son Alan also lives in Ontario, in Mississauga, with his family.
“From being a small child everything she aims for she achieves.
“She is very dedicated to her skating, and everything she does.”
Rachael, who has a younger brother Liam, 10, trains every day and is in a school programme which means she has lessons in the morning, before going to training in the afternoon.
“When I’m over there I spend quite a lot of time at the ice rink with her,” said Martha, who is planning to visit her family later in the year.
“I used to visit a lot, but since my husband Thomas died I haven’t been as much. I am going over this summer though.”
Rachael added: “In the future I would like to continue to improve and to represent Canada at the world and Olympic level stage.
“I’ll be too young for the 2014 Olympics, but my ultimate goal would be to reach the 2018 Winter Olympic games.”