Published: 11:30, 12 March 2018
| Updated: 11:35, 12 March 2018
No medal came the way of James Barnes-Miller on his first Winter Games outing but the look on the Paralympian’s face suggested he had just struck gold.
Becoming the first ParalympicsGB snowboarder to represent his country at a Games, the Broadstairs athlete had every right to be grinning from ear to ear.
The 28-year-old showed that both he and Great Britain were far from there to make up the numbers in PyeongChang.
Reaching the snowboard cross quarter-finals, it took an impressive showing from eventual gold medallist Simon Patmore to defeat him.
But with a slice of history now his, Barnes-Miller’s first shot at the Paralympics was about more than just where he finished on the leaderboard.
His maiden Winter Games is far from done there either, set to return in the early hours of Friday for the upper-limb classified banked slalom.
“This is massive, I’m a Paralympian now and that in itself is class,” he said. “This whole thing is so big, the crowds are quality and it’s just mega for me to be here.
“I’m feeling good ahead of the banked, it’s a totally different race but I’m going to get back, recover and refocus for training and then the racing is here.
“I’m at the Paralympics, that’s all that matters, what can go wrong. For now, I’ll catch up with my family who are out here, chill out a little bit and just refocus.
“It’s the first time we’ve been here and we’ve done all right, we’ve certainly raced well and everyone should be happy – I am, that’s for sure.”
Though Barnes-Miller was the first to race, he was not the only ParalympicsGB representative at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre, with Ben Moore and Owen Pick also reaching the top-16 in their respective events.
No medals came their way as the British tally stayed at three – all from the visually impaired skiers – with three days of action in PyeongChang already completed.
For the British trio the banked slalom represents a more realistic shot of silverware, just four years since snowboarding made its Paralympic debut in Sochi.
But even the biggest and best events have their hiccups, Barnes-Miller among those forced to wait as racing was halted due to a faulty start gate.
“The gates weren’t dropping at the same time so we’ve gone to using bungees, the wait wasn’t ideal but it keeps us riding and that’s the important thing,” added the Disley-born snowboarder, born without his right hand.
“It’s gutting, I wanted to medal but it was great racing, I’m really happy with how my riding was and if I get knocked out by someone in a good race then I’m happy.
“The top of the course is where it’s at, the bottom is really tight so it’s hard to undertake or overtake and if you try then you lose all your speed.
“It’s vital getting out at the top but he had the gate choice and managed to do that but I really enjoyed the race, I just hope everyone else did and I’m happy.
“I was getting close, it got to the last bend and I tried to get a little bit lower and take a tight line but he pulled away.”
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/
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