Golden girl Gallagher in Downing Street

Published Tuesday, 18 March 2014
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Northern Ireland skier Kelly Gallagher, who won gold at the Paralympics, has been honoured with a reception at 10 Downing Street.

Golden girl Gallagher in Downing Street
Kelly Gallagher and Team GB with Prime Minister David Cameron. (© PA)

The visually-impaired athlete from Bangor, Co Down, was invited to the special event on Monday to celebrate the success of Team GB in the Sochi Games.

Gallagher became the UK's first ever Paralympics champion when she scooped gold in the Super-G category last week.

The 28-year-old said she's overwhelmed by her new-found fame.

"Our last race was on Sunday and there's a picture of our last race on a massive big banner inside - Charlotte and I ski racing together," said Gallagher.

"Normally we have a little look at it on the internet and we're like 'there's us skiing' but it's really crazy to think that people are that interested in it.

"This can help our sport and really achieve something more than just us winning a ski race. It's really great."

Kelly and her guide Charlotte Evans claimed victory by completing the Super-G category in one minute, 28.72 seconds.

And despite some disappointment later in the Games, the skiing duo now have their sights set on Pyeongchang Games in 2018.

"If we can make things better for the future generation of skiers, that's what's important to us," said Gallagher.

"When we started we really had to fight for guide expenses, and even help funders understand that guiding wasn't just someone standing around, that they are committed athletes.

"So now I think we've gone some way to making that happen, and we can hopefully push the sport ever more professional.

"Hopefully the top athletes can be the leaders, show other people that it can be done, and if that brings more people into the sport, then that would be amazing.

"If four or six years ago someone had told us that we would beat the Russian girl the Slovakian girl and we would win gold in the Super-G at the Paralympics, I wouldn't have believed them. We've had so much to overcome, whether it's politics, funding issues, whatever, it just feels really so special. It's fantastic for all that hard work to pay off."

Kelly is expected home later this week.

© UTV News
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