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Golden girl Kelly Gallagher toasts medal heroics in Sochi

Northern Ireland's Kelly Gallagher, right, and her guide Charlotte Evans in action in Sochi

Northern Ireland's Kelly Gallagher, right, and her guide Charlotte Evans in action in Sochi

Northern Ireland skier Kelly Gallagher made history by winning gold for Great Britain at the Winter Paralympics in Sochi on Monday.

The County Down girl’s brilliant gold medal in the visually impaired Super-G Slalom along with guide Charlotte Evans was the first for Great Britain in a snowsport event in either the Olympic or Paralympic Games.

After setting a time of 1m 28.72s, Gallagher faced a nerve-wracking wait for the rest of the field to complete their runs before the realisation set in that the Bangor woman had clinched a famous victory.

Russian world champion Aleksandra Frantceva was fancied to set the pace but fell during her run, leaving Gallagher and Evans on top.

An emotional Gallagher admitted afterwards she had ‘lost faith’ after finishing sixth and last of the field in the downhill event, but her disappointment soon turned to tears of joy.

“I lost all of my faith in myself, in Charlotte, in our processes, in what we were doing,” she said. “But we worked with Kelley Fay to get ourselves motivated again.

“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. 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,” added the 28-year-old.

“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.”

They compete again on Tuesday morning in the Super Combined event, on Friday in the Slalom and in the Giant Slalom on Sunday.

 

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