Paralympic gold medallist Charlotte Evans (left) with Gallagher
Charlotte Evans isn’t easily reduced to tears but she believes finishing last in her Sochi 2014 opener with Kelly Gallagher was the unlikely catalyst to win Great Britain’s first ever Winter Paralympic gold medal.
The 22-year-old Chatham star, a guide for visually impaired alpine skier Gallagher, was left bitterly disappointed with sixth out of sixth in the women’s downhill on Saturday, so much so she found herself sobbing until her eyes were sore.
Evans led Gallagher to a time of 1:28.72 minutes as they finished 0.22 seconds ahead of world champion Russian home hope Alexandra Frantseva and just over a second ahead of British teammate Jade Etherington.
And, despite admitting the Winter Paralympic title-winning run was far from perfect, Evans for once couldn’t care less about the performance with a gold medal the ultimate reward in Sochi.
She said: "It takes a lot to make me cry and even the coach didn’t know what to do to me (after the downhill). He gave me an awkward tap like ‘come on, sort yourself out.
“My eyes were sore from crying so much but I think it’s because we have so much passion for the sport and we try our best every day.
“It was so easy to say ‘put it away in a box and forget about it’ especially when you are here for that event but we definitely did manage to do that."
Evans said she and Gallagher were just one of a number of formidable partnerships vying for glory at the Games.
She said: "We work well together and we work hard together and it is a good relationship and I couldn’t ask for anyone better to work with.
“Every single person that is in this circuit is the best in the world, not one person is there to be underestimated.
“I know how we can gain speed and there were parts that Kelly didn’t listen to a word that I said. I did have a go at her but I was able to because we had to analyse our skiing.
“When we got down I said ‘Kelly, you didn’t do what I asked’. I was yelling at her the whole way down.
“We went into the boot pit to get our boots checked and we couldn’t see the board and all I wanted to do was get out and see what happened.
“When we came out I saw that we were on bib five and I said ‘oh my god, we’re still on top’ so you just don’t know and you have to live it as it is.
“I would give us a seven for our skiing but the result is a 10 because we’ve got a gold.”
Previous results had suggested Evans and Gallagher were good for a podium spot – a silver medal in the super-G at the 2013 World Championships the case in point.
And they duly delivered with a gold medal that was Britain’s first on snow at either a Winter Olympics or Paralympics and ensured ParalympicsGB have already met their medal target.
But with three events still yet to contest in Sochi – the super combined on Tuesday, the giant slalom and slalom – Evans admits the pair can now ski without pressure.
She added: "You could say we had pressure because we did so bad in the downhill but we took it as we had no pressure – you can’t do any worse than that.
“We did our best in the downhill and it didn’t work but it worked now and we will do our best to do the same again.
“Our sport is being looked upon as a proper sport and there are so many people watching this – it is exciting.”
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: www.Sainsburys.co.uk/activekids