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Paralympics Preview: Team Great Britain

The Beijing 2022 Paralympics started last Saturday 5th March with the opening ceremony taking place on Friday the 4th. We will be looking at the British stars to look out for during the games taking you through each of the nine days. Beijing will host the 13th para-winter-sport event with 78 events across six sports over just nine days of competition.

Beijing is the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics and Paralympics after they hosted the Summer Games in 2008.

With the UK being 8 hours behind Beijing, many of the events will be challenging to watch at a reasonable time but these are the key events to keep an eye on during the next week and a half and maybe you can manage to have either a late night or early morning to support our GB Paralympians.

Day One The first day of the Paralympics kicks off with 12 medal events across both Alpine skiing and Nordic skiing. Nordic skiing is the collective name for two different Para sport disciplines: Para biathlon and Para cross-country skiing.

In the biathlon, the 6km events in all three categories, seated, standing and visually impaired will go ahead. Scott Meenagh was Great Britain’s only representative in the Nordic skiing events but this year the team has grown to five.

Millie Knight, 23, and her guide Brett Wild, 29, are a British duo competing in the Alpine skiing event for the visually impaired and they will be hoping that they can do one better than the impressive silver they took home at the last games in South Korea. Slovakia’s Henrieta Farkasova and her guide Michal Červen will be the ones to beat since they have an incredible nine gold medals in the Paralympic games since 2010!

Day Two On day two there are eight medal events and the much looked forward to snowboarding events begin!

Brit James Barnes-Miller, 32, is hoping that he can put down a strong performance after an impressive World Championships last year where he won two bronze medals. Eyes will also be on two British rookies Ollie Hill, 33, and Andy MacLeod, 29, who will be looking to impress in their first Games.

The GB wheelchair curlers are due to play their first game against Russia, however, a ruling has not been decided yet as to whether they will be able to compete after their country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Millie Knight and her guide Brett Wild are again in action in the super-G and are medal hopefuls for the GB team.

Day Three Eight medals are also up for grabs on the third day of the Games with medal hopeful James Barnes-Miller in action for the second day running, competing in the UL Upper Limb snowboarding event.

Even though there are no alpine skiing events on day three, all eyes will be on Owen Pick, Ollie Hill and Andy MacLeod who are all also competing for GB in the snowboarding in the LL2 event for those athletes who have lower-limb impairments.

The GB wheelchair curlers have a busy day with two matches against Switzerland and then Slovakia, a key day for GB curling skip Hugh Nibloe and the team.

Day Four A hefty 12 medal events are taking place on day four in Beijing with a day packed with skiing with both the super-G and slalom events.

It is sure to be another close con- test between Henrieta Farkasova and Millie Knight and this will be a contest sure to watch on day four.

Great Britain’s biatheltes are competing with Steve Arnold, Scott Meenagh and Callum Deboys all due to be in action in the men’s seated event.

The GB wheelchair curlers have another busy day with two matches again but the task ahead of them is a tough one facing both Estonia and Sweden.

Defending Paralympic skiing champion Menna Fitzpatrick from Macclesfield has had an obstacle thrown her way in the run up to the games. Her guide, Katie Guest, 26, unfortunately tested positive for Covid and so Guest is unable to compete. Fitzpatrick is still racing in the event, but she is being guided by Gary Smith instead.

Day Five Six medals are available to take home on day five, and at this stage, over halfway through the games, the Nordic skiing events are the main focus of the day.

Steve Thomas, 45, is certainly one to watch in the Nordic skiing as he will be competing in his sixth Paralympics which is a hugely impressive feat. Even more impressively, he is competing in his third different sport after competing previously in sailing and Para-ice hockey!

British athlete Hope Gordon from Sutherland is set to make history by being the first women to represent Great Britain in cross-country skiing at the Paralympics after competing at the summer games in the canoe.

For the curlers, it is a challenging yet important day on the ice for the British athletes having to face three-time Paralympic champions Canada followed by South Korea.

Day Six Only three medal events on day six and they are all in Alpine skiing. It is the last day of the round-robin matches at the ice rink for the wheelchair curlers, having to play against both China and Latvia.

The British sibling duo of Neil and Andrew Simpson will be in action in the men’s giant slalom event on day six. GB have two rookies Dan Sheen and Alex Slegg competing in the seated division with the experience of James Whitley who is at his third Games also competing in this event.

Day Seven With only three medal events available on day six, day seven provides us with six more medals, with nine gold medals available!

Day six gave us the men’s slalom events and on day nine it is the women who will be competing with, yes, Millie Knight and guide Brett Wild in action yet again.

Menna Fitzpatrick, is again also competing with her replacement guide Gary Smith on day seven, and she will be hoping that she can take home a medal just like she did four years ago, winning the silver medal in Pyeongchang.

The GB wheelchair curlers will hope that they are on the ice rink on day seven with the semi-finals in action. Hopefully they will be competing in only one match, with the second match of the day being the bronze medal match.

The British trio are again racing on day seven with Scott Meenagh, Callum Deboys and Steve Arnold all competing in the tough 12.5km biathlon’s seated event.

Day Eight The penultimate day of the games provides us with a whopping 14 medal events in Alpine skiing, Wheelchair curling, Snowboarding and Nordic skiing.

The Scottish curlers will be hoping to have grabbed a spot in the final which would give them the chance of taking home a gold or silver medal which would be a huge achievement on the last day on the ice.

One event to watch is the snowboarding events where four Brits, James Barnes-Miller, Owen Pick, Andy MacLeod and Ollie Hill, are all competing on day eight.

Another tough day for the Nordic skiers with the 7.5km cross-country seated event for the five Brits involved, Scott Meenagh, Steve Arnold, Steve Thomas, Callum Deboys and Hope Gordon.

Day Nine The final day of the Paralympics and there are six medal events.

After the men had their last skiing events on day eight, it’s the women’s turn at the slalom which is the final event for Alpine skiing in Beijing. Menna Fitzpatrick and guide Gary Smith will be hoping to gain a medal on the last day as well as Millie Knight and Brett Wild who are again competing for a medal.

The Games in Beijing, China will come to a close on day nine, 13th March 2022 at the National Stadium. Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy is the location of the next winter Paralympics in 2026 and so Giuseppe Sala, Milan’s mayor will be gaining the Paralympic flag at the closing ceremony.

Four years ago, the Paralympics took place in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and the Brits managed to come home with seven medals, their most successful Paralympics to date. Hopefully, we can do better this year but that will be a hugely impressive achievement after the huge success in 2018. All the medals that the ParalympicsGB squad gained in South Korea were from the alpine skiers. If ParalympicsGB can diversify the sports in which GB athletes get on the podium, then Beijing could set a new record of medals for those coming from Great Britain.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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