Broadstairs athlete James Barnes-Miller knew from the word go that snowboarding was a sport he simply had to do.

First trying out it out with friends, the 28-year-old ventured onto the slopes for the first time in 2010.

Eight years later, Barnes-Miller is now a Paralympian – touching down in PyeongChang as part of the first ParalympicsGB snowboarding team to take to the slopes.

Being born without a hand means the Kent man will compete in the SB-UL category in South Korea and, like Owen Pick and Ben Moore, will battle it out in snowboard cross and banked slalom.

But, thanks to a piece of good timing that started his journey to a maiden Games, this is far from the first time he was come across his ParalympicsGB teammates.

James in PyeongChang prep

“Three years ago, I bumped into Owen (Pick) and Ben (Moore) who had just finished competing and we got chatting, then they encouraged me to give it a go and from there I went on a training camp,” he said.

“The coach said ‘if you’re willing to put in the effort, I reckon I can get you to the Paralympics’, so now he’s done his job and I’ve done mine I suppose.

“It was the first camp, he said he could get the team there if we were willing to work hard and that was it for me, something clicked and I knew this is what I wanted to do.

“I went home and told my girlfriend that this was what I needed to do, this is it and I have to do this, and now here I am.

“I didn’t even know I could get to the Paralympics and before this Games it wouldn’t even have been possible anyway.”

James Barnes-Miller: Buzzing at his selection day


Growing up had bad times and good times, but I get to snowboard all year so I don’t care.

James Barnes-Miller

Barnes-Miller has had his fair share of ups and downs, a fourth-place finish at last year’s World Championships offsetted by having £10,000 of equipment stolen from his van.

For some that would be enough to end a Paralympic dream – but nobody told that to this snowboarder.

Despite missing a hand, building work has been a regular part of Barnes-Miller’s life, desperate not to be held back from the big or little things in life.

“I was born without my hand, I have a twin brother so there was a complication in the womb and I haven’t known any different,” he added.

“It’s all cool, there have been times where it’s been awkward and uncomfortable without it but I can’t change it, you sort of get use to it.

“Growing up had bad times and good times, but I get to snowboard all year so I don’t care.

“My mum always said the main thing I can’t do is hold two cups and saucers – but who uses cups and saucers anyway, so that doesn’t matter!

“I used to work on building sites, there was stuff there that was harder but there isn’t a lot that I can’t do – there’s always a way around it, you’ve just got to figure it out and that’s part of the fun.”

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