Already a champion at the age of 12, Ava Mae Wilson was expecting to be spending the spring of 2020 preparing for the British Under 15 figure skating championships. But like so many of us, she has seen her plans thrown upside down by Covid-19.

However, as many elite sportspeople now get back to training and competition, the Kempshott girl has been left "disillusioned" at how ice sports have been demoted to the level of leisure activity, and rinks banned from reopening for the third time.

As previously reported by The Gazette, Planet Ice in Basingstoke was due to reopen on Saturday, August 1, but a last minute announcement from the Prime Minister the day before put paid to that idea.

This has left the Sherfield school pupil, who had to travel abroad to Iceland and Belgium since June just to keep up her training, forced to seek another trip to Reykjavik in order to stay in performance-ready form.

Now Ava's mum, Olivia Williams, has spoken out about the decision to prevent ice rinks reopening in line with other sporting activities.

The 42-year-old said she was left "gobsmacked", returning from Leuven in Belgium last week ready for the rinks to reopen, when she heard Boris Johnson say they were to be delayed yet again.

It comes after the government admitted that ice rinks were "included by accident" alongside indoor gyms to reopen last month, forcing Planet Ice to change their plans, and after Olivia says that she was told Planet Ice were due to reopen on July 4, alongside other facilities in the leisure industry.

"We had planned everything out," the bookkeeper told The Gazette. "We were fully expecting to be on the ice on Saturday.

"It is the third time this has been postponed so it is absolutely devastating."

Luckily, Ava, who won the Prague Ice Cup in November, is "way too keen" to be disheartened by the decision, and is plugging away at her training routine, which has consisted of Zoom training over lockdown. The Team GB athlete has been invited back to Iceland, and will fly out again if rinks don't open in the UK on the delayed date of August 15.

"It is a massive financial pressure and emotional pressure because Ava's dad has been forced to stay at home so we can afford to do this," Olivia continued. "It has split up our family to do this."

However, she says that she cannot understand how professional athletes are unable to train - in a sport that can easily and naturally social distance - but people are allowed to go to pubs and bars, where social distancing is much harder.

"There is a big difference between that and what these kids are doing in a training session.

"It feels a bit unfair that they are not allowed to pursue their sports when there are others that are higher risk, like swimming, who can.

"It has been devastating for her. It is such a double standard."