Gold for NI's Gallagher at Paralympics

Published Monday, 10 March 2014
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Northern Ireland's Kelly Gallagher has won gold at the Winter Paralympics.

Gold for NI's Gallagher at Paralympics
Kelly Gallagher in action in the Women's Super-G in Sochi. (© Getty)

The visually-impaired skier, who's from Bangor in Co Down, and her guide Charlotte Evans claimed victory in Sochi by completing the Super-G category in one minute, 28.72 seconds.

It is the first ever gold medal at the games for both Kelly Gallagher, and the Paralympics GB team.

Gallagher and Evans were the first of the six pairs down and had an anxious wait to see if their time would be good enough.

Russian world champion Aleksandra Frantceva was expected to go quicker, but crashed out, leaving the British duo on top of the standings.

It represented a huge turnaround in fortunes from just two days ago when they finished dead last, leaving Evans in tears.

Gallagher explained: "We came last so we really had to work to pick ourselves up
.
"It was really hard work coming from downhill into Super-G because they are similar speed events.

"We were told by our sports psychologist to put it away, it's one result. It's so easy to say, so hard to do.

"I lost all of my faith in myself, in Charlotte, in our processes, in what we were doing and I was like, 'I only have a couple of hours to put this together, because we're going to be back on snow and we've got to race'.

"Charlotte said to me, 'You've got to make a decision to turn it around and forget about all the pressure that's on us' and it has worked out.

"We've had to do that so many times along the road when we have been training, whether I have been scared of something or I have been injured and physically hurt and mentally hurt.

"We've had to pull ourselves together so many times that I guess all that was training for what happened from our downhill to the super-G."

Speaking of Saturday's disappointment, Evans said: "It takes a lot to make me cry, even the coach didn't really know what to do with me. It was that awkward tap like, 'Come on, sort yourself out'. My eyes were sore from crying.

"We did our best in the downhill and it didn't work, I can't tell you why. But I know that today worked."

Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín described the 28-year-old as "a true inspiration to all of us."

"With her guide Charlotte, these two women have shown us all how to achieve at the highest level. They were able to turn disappointment on Saturday into triumph on Monday.

"With other events still to come, Kelly and Charlotte may still achieve more medal success."

The Minister added: "Congratulations on your win today and the very best of luck for further success in the days ahead. Everyone across the north, and all your colleagues here in the civil service, are proud of your achievements so far and we will all be taking a great interest in the other events you are participating in over the next couple of weeks."

Alliance Councillor Andrew Muir, Mayor of North Down, described the historic win as "a fantastic achievement."

"We have another sporting hero to be proud of and as Mayor I will be ensuring Kelly receives a fitting reception when she returns home," he said.

"Kelly has brought great excitement to the area and hopefully will have inspired a new generation of paralympians. She now deserves to be remembered with the sporting greats from Northern Ireland."

© UTV News
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10 Comments
Larry in Belfast wrote (139 days ago):
Well done, Kelly - but when did Northern Ireland become part of Great Britain. If she had fallen it would have been the girl from Northern Ireland. It's funny how we're GB when we win gold. By the way Great Britain is the mainland only! We are part of the UK.
s magowan in belfast wrote (139 days ago):
Brilliant result for Kelly congratulations.It goes to show that with a bit of professionalism and hard training NI athletes can become No1 in their sport.Well done
Observer in Online wrote (139 days ago):
Congrats & well done. Go Team GB!
Sarah in Belfast wrote (140 days ago):
Absolutely fabulous!!
lorna in limavady wrote (140 days ago):
good for kelly. the star of Northern ireland. this young girl is amazing and a worthy winner. I hope she will get a good reception when she comes back to northern ireland. truely deserved.
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