Australians win medals at 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeonchang
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.
GLORY: Guide Christian Geiger with skier Melissa Perrine won two bronze medals in two days.