17 December 2018
PyeongChang 2018 Winter Paralympics Review
Records tumbled for ParalympicsGB as soon as we set foot in PyeongChang.
Arriving in South Korea with our biggest team of athletes in 12 years, we produced something very special. Seven medals – one of them gold – made it the most successful Winter Paralympic Games in our history.
Of the 17 athletes at the games – it was the alpine skiers who garnered the majority of the headlines.
Not surprising considering all seven ParalympicsGB medals came on the slopes of the Jeongseon Alpine Centre.
The culmination of that glory came in Menna Fitzpatrick and Jen Kehoe, her guide, storming to gold in the visually impaired slalom on the final day of competition in March.
After crashing in the opening downhill event, the duo had claimed two silvers and a bronze across the super G, super combined and giant slalom.
“Our main aim was to go and have fun and beat our time from previously.”
Slovakia’s Henrieta Farkasova was the woman to beat heading into the last day, with four golds from her four races and was going for the full house.
At the halfway stage, it looked like that trend would continue but Fitzpatrick and Kehoe saved their best for last.
“Our main aim was to go and have fun and beat our time from previously,” said Fitzpatrick. “We just had to put in our best performance. And we fought the whole way down.
“After the downhill it was emotional in a sad way because we had done really well in it all season.
“We were really gutted but we then worked really hard to dust ourselves off. All the emotions got put aside and we just had a job to do.”
Kehoe, who carried the Union Flag at the closing ceremony alongside Fitzpatrick, added: “We were trying to keep it together on the medal podium because it was hugely emotional. It’s unbelievable to win a gold medal and it is beyond our wildest dreams.”
Millie Knight and Brett Wild in action on the slopes of PyeongChang
The other three British medals over the nine days of competition all went to Millie Knight and her guide Brett Wild who got the medal haul started on the opening day with downhill silver.
They followed that up with silver in the Super G but, in Sunday’s final event, they found themselves with bronze as compatriots Fitzpatrick and Kehoe topped the pile.
But Knight is already counting down the days to 2022 and another shot at top spot.
“I’ll definitely be back again in four years, we’ve got to win that gold. It’s each step on the way but we’ll get back to training when we are back,” she said.
“The season we have had has been really tough and coming away with three medals is absolutely wonderful.
“We were coming into these Games almost not expecting anything and thinking we could come out with nothing and so we’re delighted.
“To be able to come back today and fight for our bronze has been brilliant.”
A word too for Kelly Gallagher – the trailblazing gold medallist from Sochi four years ago – who claimed four finishes between fifth and eighth in South Korea but never cracked the podium.
“I’ll definitely be back again in four years, we’ve got to win that gold. "
There might not have been any Para Nordic Skiing medals for ParalympicsGB in PyeongChang but there was certainly history made.
Scott Meenagh became the first Brit to compete in an event for two decades and finished 13th in the 12.5km biathlon – just missing out on the semi-finals in the cross-country sprint.
For the wheelchair curlers it was a case of so close and yet so far as skip Aileen Neilson, who claimed bronze in Sochi four years ago, and her rink missed out on the semi-finals.
Neilson, Hugh Nibloe, Gregor Ewan, Bob McPherson and Angie Malone had downed both Canada and Norway – the eventual bronze and silver medallists respectively – in group play but went down to vital defeats to the USA and Slovakia.
Scott Meenagh finished 13th in the Para Nordic Skiing
Meanwhile, there was plenty of hope for the future in the snowboard cross event as James Barnes-Miller became the first Brit to compete in the sport at a Winter Paralympics.
Ben Moore and Owen Pick followed soon after, but the trio missed out on the medals – Barnes-Miller’s quarter-final their best result before the banked slaloms that saw Moore finish seventh and Barnes-Miller tenth while Pick was ninth in the SB-LL2 category.
“This is massive, I’m a Paralympian now and that in itself is class,” Barnes-Miller reflected after. “This whole thing is so big, the crowds are quality and it’s just mega for me to be here.
“It’s the first time we’ve been here and we’ve done alright, we’ve certainly raced well and everyone should be happy – I am, that’s for sure.”
Joint the ParalympicsGB movement
The ParalympicsGB movement