1 March 2018
Feature: Menna Fitzpatrick's Paralympic dreams
Menna Fitzpatrick has dreamt of the Paralympic Games ever since starting skiing, but now those dreams will become a reality.
Macclesfield-born Fitzpatrick has had nothing short of a stunning Alpine career so far alongside guide Jennifer Kehoe, becoming the first British skiers to win the overall World Cup visually impaired title back in 2016.
Add that to her World Championship bronze, Europa Cup gold and ten World Cup medals from the past year alone, it’s fair to say the 19-year-old is on top of her game ahead of PyeongChang.
Menna and Jen loving prep camp in PyeongChang
For most that would be enough to ease any nerves of a Winter Paralympic Games debut.
But for Fitzpatrick, selection came at just the right time.
“We’ve been training a lot this past year, we’ve put everything into this so it’s nice to have that feeling of relief, knowing that all of our hard work has paid off,” she said.
“It’s absolutely amazing to be selected and going to PyeongChang, I’ve been dreaming of going to the Paralympics ever since I started skiing, so I’m both delighted and a little bit relieved this has come around.
“To represent your country is amazing, I’m so proud to be from Great Britain and we are not traditionally known as a big skiing country – we don’t have the mountains.
“We’re really pleased with the way the season has gone so far, last year I injured myself and the results weren’t quite as we wanted them to be, so coming into this season we weren’t really expecting much.
“We got to Pitztal for the Europa Cup and we just went for it like it was any other race, so we were so happy to have won that one, and it’s all just built from there.”
See like Menna 360: Experience the world through the eyes of three different visually impaired Para alpine skiiers
Fitzpatrick has no vision in her left eye and limited sight in her right, and is set to race the visually impaired B2 classification behind guide Kehoe in PyeongChang.
The pair communicate via Bluetooth headsets, with Fitzpatrick just about able to see the outline of Kehoe ahead of her, have formed a partnership that has certainly blossomed since first coming together in 2015.
Of course we would love to come away with a medal – who wouldn’t!
This season has seen ten medals won from ten World Cup races, including two golds in the final round of competition last month.
And with Kehoe having been inspired by both the achievements of Dave Ryding and racing with Fitzpatrick, the guide is excited by what is to come over the next two weeks.
“We’re ultimately trying not to put too much pressure on ourselves because it would be quite easy to do that and to have pressure from coaches and family and so on,” said the 34-year-old, who will also be making her Paralympic debut.
Jen guides Menna for the cameras at their selection day
“We want to go and have an amazing experience and have fun because that’s what we’re all about, if you enjoy it you tend to do better anyway, and if we manage to turn that into medal success then happy days.
“We know we have worked really, really hard this past summer, both on and off the snow – we’ve been in the gym and done hundreds of hours of training.
“We therefore know we’re the best prepared we can be, so if on the day it doesn’t go right, we’re still going to be proud of what we’ve done because it’s our best.
“But of course we would love to come away with a medal – who wouldn’t!”
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