Aus­tralians win medals at 2018 Win­ter Olympics in Pyeon­chang

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AUS­TRALIA capped off a great Win­ter Par­a­lympic com­pe­ti­tion in PyeongChang with Si­mon Pat­more win­ning gold and bronze and Melissa Per­rine cap­tur­ing two bronze medals.

Com­pet­ing in snow­board cross, Pat­more showed he is the best in his dis­ci­pline with a his­toric dis­play. The 30-year-old won Aus­tralia’s first gold medal at a Win­ter Par­a­lympics since Michael Mil­ton and Bart Bunt­ing won at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.

Glid­ing down the Jeongseon Alpine Cen­tre snow­board cross course Pat­more also be­came the first man in Aus­tralian sport­ing his­tory to win a medal at both the Sum­mer and Win­ter Games. Pat­more claimed bronze in the 200m T46 fi­nal at the Lon­don 2012 Par­a­lympic Games.

“When you guys say first gold for a while and first male ath­lete for Sum­mer and Win­ter, I’m re­ally proud,” Pat­more said.

“I re­ally want to show ev­ery­one that it can be done and all you have to do is put in the ef­fort and put in the time and trust the process.”

There wait­ing for him was his two Aus­tralian snow­board team­mates Sean Pol­lard (9th in the same dis­abil­ity class as Pat­more) and Ben Tud­hope (10th in his lower limb dis­abil­ity class). They broke through se­cu­rity guards and raced out onto the snow for an im­promptu cel­e­bra­tion with Pat­more. Pol­lard and Tud­hope jumped all over him as he let the tears of joy flow.

“In the quar­ter-fi­nals, semis and through to the fi­nal I was just hold­ing back the tears and the emo­tions,” Pat­more said.

“Man my gog­gles fogged up as soon as I crossed the line. I had to col­lapse on the ground or I would have run straight into ev­ery­one.”

Pat­more backed up the bril­liant gold medal to claim bronze in the banked slalom event.

“I had no ex­pec­ta­tions go­ing into banked slalom,” the 30 year old from Bris­bane said.

“I def­i­nitely did have a lit­tle con­fi­dence boost af­ter the gold medal. I knew the boards were run­ning fast so when I came down the course the first time and put down a good time, I thought ‘Well it’s game on!’

“I got some good advice from my coach (Lukas Prem) and each run I was able to put down a faster time.”

Pat­more’s team­mate in the up­per-limb dis­abil­ity cat­e­gory, Sean Pol­lard, had his best re­sult of the week with a fifth plac­ing af­ter his ninth in the snow­board cross and Ben Tud­hope fin­ished in 7th po­si­tion.

Melissa Per­rine pro­duced some great ski­ing in the vi­sion im­paired class with her sighted guide Chris­tian Geiger to win two Par­a­lympic bronze in two days.

Com­pet­ing in the alpine com­bined, the Per­rine-Geiger team stormed home in the sec­ond slalom leg to win bronze af­ter be­ing placed sixth af­ter the Su­per G com­po­nent.

“That’s an un­der­state­ment,” Per­rine said, when asked to de­scribe her emo­tions af­ter wait­ing so long for Par­a­lympic suc­cess.

“Re­lief, I guess. Ela­tion. Just so happy right now. I’m stoked that it was enough to get on the podium and I’m so ex­cited for the next two races,” she said af­ter the first medal.

The 30 year old from Mit­tagong in NSW com­pet­ing in her third Win­ter Par­a­lympic games then landed the bronze in the gi­ant slalom the fol­low­ing day.

Af­ter win­ning the sec­ond medal, Per­rine the woman who has won 35 World Cup medals and eight World Cham­pi­onships medals over the past eight years said, “I love this sport, it’s an amaz­ing sport. I wanted to re­lax and have a lot of fun out there to­day and I man­aged to do that.”

Per­rine came close to her third medal with a great fourth plac­ing in the women’s vi­sion im­paired Slalom. Per­rine may have fin­ished 4th, just out­side the medals, but her PyeongChang re­sume is pos­i­tively glow­ing with five top-five fin­ishes from five events, in­clud­ing her bronze in the Su­per Com­bined and the Gi­ant Slalom.

Per­rine was also be­stowed the hon­our of car­ry­ing the flag in the clos­ing cer­e­mony at PyeongChang Olympic Sta­dium.

In a sad note for the team, flag bearer and co-cap­tain Joany Baden­horst dis­lo­cated her kneecap and tore lig­a­ments in a crash dur­ing of­fi­cial train­ing and was ruled out of the games. It was a near iden­ti­cal in­jury to the one which saw 23 year old Baden­horst also miss out on com­pet­ing in Sochi four years ear­lier.

Baden­horst was the num­ber one ranked snow­board cross ath­lete and ranked three in banked slalom and could have added to the over­all tally had she not in­jured her­self. She had won the two IPC Para-snow­board World Cup races lead­ing into PyeongChang.

Over­all the Aus­tralian Par­a­lympic Games cam­paign were con­sid­ered a huge suc­cess, with four medals and a top 15 po­si­tion in the over­all medal tally.

The medal haul was dou­ble Sochi (two) from four years ago and Torino in 2006 (two), and one more than Van­cou­ver (three) in 2010. In fact, Aus­tralia’s tally of four is the high­est num­ber of medals won since Salt Lake City in 2002 (seven).

CEL­E­BRA­TION: Si­mon Pat­more cel­e­brates win­ning gold in the snow­board cross.

IN­JURY: Flag bearer and co-cap­tain Joany Baden­horst be­fore she in­jured her­self.

PHO­TOS: Aus­tralian Par­a­lympic Com­mit­tee.

GLORY: Guide Chris­tian Geiger with skier Melissa Per­rine won two bronze medals in two days.

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