2 December 2020

ParalympicsGB at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games

The Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games will be remembered as a truly historic competition for ParalympicsGB, as the team surpassed all expectations to achieve a record medal haul, including the milestone of the first ever gold medal at a Winter Games, and secure the highest ever finish position of 10th in the medal table.

Hailed as the ‘Games of Opportunity’ by Chef de Mission Penny Briscoe, every athlete delivered their personal best performances on the ice and snow in Sochi, resulting in the team securing a total of one gold, three silver and two bronze medals.

The first Paralympic Games ever held in Russia saw nine days of competition and 547 athletes from 45 countries competing, 15 of them for ParalympicsGB.

Gold medallists Kelly Gallagher and guide Charlotte Evans celebrate during the medal ceremony for the Women's Super-G

In Para alpine skiing, 10 athletes, including three guides, took to the slopes of Rosa Khutor for GB, including two who were making their second Games appearances, Kelly Gallagher and Anna Turney.

There were plenty of ParalympicsGB highlights from the Para alpine skiing events, amongst them the first ever gold medal for Britain at a Winter Games, won by Kelly Gallagher and Charlotte Evans in the women’s VI super-G. This was also the first gold medal for any British alpine skier, in either the Olympic or Paralympic Games.

Jade Etherington and Caroline Powell marked their Games debut in style on the opening day of competition, winning the very first ParalympicsGB medal in Para alpine skiing for 20 years as they claimed silver in the women’s VI downhill.

They went on to win the most Paralympic medals by any British winter athlete ever, equalling the previous record held by Richard Burt, who collected a silver and three bronzes in skiing across two Games, the 1992 Tignes-Albertville Games and the 1994 Lillehammer Games.

Etherington and Powell were duly crowned as the most decorated British female winter athletes ever and their success also represented the most Paralympic medals won by any British winter athlete at a single Games, as they broke the record previously held by Denise Smith and Ann Peskey who each won three silvers at the 1984 Innsbruck Winter Paralympics. These records were later taken by Menna Fitzpatrick and Jen Kehoe following their performances at PyeongChang 2018.

Millie Knight and guide Rachael Ferrier in the Women's Slalom

Other strong results included Anna Turney only narrowly missing out on a podium finish in the super-G, while former serviceman Mick Brennan used experience gathered while in Vancouver as part of the predecessor to the Paralympic Inspiration programme to secure two top 10 performances and a 14th place finish.

Fifteen year old Millie Knight, the youngest athlete on the team, was named GB flagbearer for the Opening Ceremony and along with guide Rachael Ferrier she confidently tackled the slopes to record two 5th place finishes. Of the other debutants, Ben Sneesby put in an accomplished set of runs to secure a ranking of 11th in the slalom, while James Whitley also showed potential for PyeongChang in 2018 by finishing within the top 15 in both of his events.

Aileen Neilson raises a fist in celebration on the wheelchair curling rink

In wheelchair curling, the team of Aileen Neilson, Gregor Ewan, Jim Gault, Bob McPherson and Angie Malone overcame a last minute challenge, when Tom Killin was de-selected due to illness. But they rallied to fight through the highs and lows of competition at the Ice Cube Curling Centre and banish the disappointment of Vancouver 2010. They ultimately claimed bronze for ParalympicsGB - the second medal in wheelchair curling for GB since the sport was introduced to the Paralympic programme in 2006.

The bronze also represented the first ever Paralympic medal for a female wheelchair curling skip in the form of Aileen Neilson, who at that point was the only female athlete to be a skip at that level, while Angie Malone became the most decorated GB curler in either Olympic or Paralympic history with two medals from three Paralympic Games (silver in Turin in 2006 and bronze in Sochi in 2014).

With their final medal tally, ParalympicsGB met the stated UK Sport medal target of winning at least two medals at Sochi 2014, and comfortably surpassed the ambitions of the two winter National Governing Bodies.

Penny Briscoe, Chef de Mission, said: “I am so delighted for the team, they have truly done our nation proud. They have put in some outstanding and historic performances on the snow and on the ice, and I feel honoured to have led a team that has been absolutely world-class.”

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