By Mike Rowbottom

Elise Christie_of_Great_BritainOctober 3 - Elise Christie won the overall classification title for the second year running at the International Invitation Cup in Heerenveen as Britain's short track speed skaters got their season off to a flying start in the Netherlands.

The British team won a total of eleven titles out of a possible twelve, including five individual and two relay wins, plus two overall classification titles and both top team positions.

The Britons saw off competition from three countries ranked top eight in the world last year, as the men stormed to victory in the overall classification with a one-two-three finish for Jon Eley, Jack Whelbourne and Paul Stanley respectively.

Eley continued his form from the national squad trials as he powered to victory in the 1,000 metres ahead of British teammate Whelbourne, who also picked up another silver medal in the 1,500m just behind Freek Van Der Wart of the Netherlands.

Paul Stanley also produced an outstanding performance in the 500m to win gold just 0.001sec ahead of the Netherlands' Sjinkie Knegt.

In the women's event, Charlotte Gilmartin took third place overall behind Christie.

"I'm really happy with my performance this weekend," said Christie.

"It was a really solid start to the season and I hope I can keep building on this success throughout the year and all the way up to Sochi 2014.

"It's also great that the rest of the team have raced so well too and won events, because it gives me a lot of confidence in the training we've been doing."

After Christie made it a clean sweep in the 500m, 1,000m and 1,500m events, the girls continued the gold rush with victory in the 3,000m relay.

Jon Eley_05-10-12Jon Eley (L) secured victory in the 1,00m

The team, which featured Christie's Nottingham teammates Gilmartin, Kathryn Thomson and Alex Stanley, held their form in the final to sneak victory from the Germans in a tense final.

It is the first time in three years that Britain has had an international women's relay team, and after their medal success this weekend the team will be looking to qualify for the event at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

"For the girls to come into their first competition together as a team and beat well established teams like the Germans is fantastic," performance director Stuart Horsepool said.

"Hopefully the girls can build on this success through the season and make an impact at Sochi in 2014."

Gilmartin also impressed this weekend, taking silver behind Christie in the 500m.

She also clinched a bronze in the 1,500m just behind Bernadett Heidum from Hungary.

Horsepool said he was pleased with the whole squad's performance in Heerenveen, where they have beaten some of the best teams in Europe, including the Dutch who were ranked number two in the world after the world relays earlier this year.

He added: "We've dominated the event; the team couldn't have done much more in fact.

"But the biggest test will be at the first World Cup event in Calgary in three weeks, and for the juniors the Star Class competitions which begin in November."

The squad have shown in Holland that they mean business as they begin their 2014 Sochi Olympic campaign, and will be confident as they begin the countdown to the start of the World Cup Series on October 19 and the Star Cup on November 2.

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