Published: 09:35, 11 March 2018
James Whitley came of age on the Paralympic Winter Games stage with a superb top-10 finish on the opening day in Pyeongchang, writes Ross Lawson.
The Wilmington skier is at his second Games after making his debut at Sochi 2014 aged just 16, taking home two placings in the top 15 when still at the infancy of his career.
But with four more years of experience, strength and skiing to his name, Whitley feels the only way is up as he heads down the slope.
A 10th place men’s standing downhill was a good a way as any to show what he’s about in Pyeongchang, in little doubt about the reasons behind the successful start to his Games.
“I felt really well prepared going in and I had a lot of confidence going in after training this week, even though I didn’t have a very flattering result in 17,” he said.
“To come down the course in tenth in my first Paralympic downhill is really good.
“I just wanted to do the best I could. I knew if I skied well technically I’d be ok because I felt the course was favourable for me.
“I was trying to keep a lid on my nerves, it usually comes from preparation and I had faith in what I’d done already.
“It feels good out there, it’s running fast in sections and it’s quite technical in parts so it’s a really fun course to do if nothing else, that really helped me.”
This is far from the end of Whitley’s action in Pyeongchang, returning for the Super-G in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Five events will come his way in all, a big step-up from Sochi in itself, with just a week separating the start from the end in what’s an intense encounter.
The 20-year-old knows momentum, adrenaline and the experience will at least partially carry him through but, as for the rest, he’s got a trick or two up his sleeve.
“I tend to do a bit of yoga when I can, around about an hour after each race to help get the body better,” he added.
“After every race I make sure I do a really good recovery and do all the physio I can do and make sure I’m best prepared and then get an early night because they are really early starts.
“I was in Sochi when I was 16 so I knew what to expect coming in and it hasn’t been overwhelming. I’ve got that little bit more experience under my belt with four more years on skis so I feel it’s gone to plan.”
Sainsbury’s is a proud long-term supporter of the British Paralympic Association and a champion of inclusive sport for all. For more information on Sainsbury’s commitment to inclusive sport visit http://www.j-sainsbury.co.uk/
Every morning at 10am we play you an hour of tunes from the 90s. We call it, #WeLoveThe90s.
Play 'Say It' with Garry and Laura on kmfm Breakfast and you could win £1,000!
Wake up to kmfm Breakfast with Garry and Laura - it's Kent's alarm call.