Gold medallist Fitzpatrick was named as ParalympicsGB flagbearer at PyeongChang 2018 Closing Ceremony
Paralympic champion Menna Fitzpatrick had the honour of carrying the flag for ParaympicsGB at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games Closing Ceremony on Sunday.
Fitzpatrick and guide Jennifer Kehoe claimed a sensational slalom gold medal on the final day of action in South Korea to help make PyeongChang 2018 the most successful ever Paralympic Winter Games for ParalympicsGB. They have also become ParalympicsGB’s most decorated Winter athletes with four medals (one gold, two silver and a bronze)
It was a difficult start to the Games for Fitzpatrick and Kehoe as they failed to medal in the opening-day downhill event.
But they recovered in style to claim super-G bronze before adding giant slalom and super-combined silvers and topping the week off with gold.
Menna Fitzpatrick said: “I’m absolutely honoured to carry the flag for GB, because it means so much to me after what we’ve been through this week. What a way to top off today, it couldn’t have gone any better.
“I’m a little bit nervous about carrying the flag, I don’t want to mess it up! Owen did a really good job for the Opening Ceremony but it’s such a privilege, I’m really excited and just want to go out there and enjoy the final moments of these Games.”
On her stunning gold medal Fitzpatrick said: “I can’t believe it, the whole journey has been really long, with quite a few ups and downs along the way but it’s just amazing to be here.
“Jen calmed me down, as did the coaches, family and everyone really, we had a giggle and did some singing and just got everything out of the system.
“Our main aim was to just go and have fun and try and beat our previous time, however well Farkasova can ski, that’s something that’s out of our control and we just tried to ski as well as we can. We fought the whole way down, Jen just told me to go from halfway down so we did. We went out with a bang!
“Jen didn’t have to say anything – she just jumped on me! She just gave me the biggest hug she’s had in her life and no words were needed.
“This morning I didn’t have the greatest start, you wouldn’t have thought it was our day. A ski belt fell off one of the racks on the bus and hit me on the head, then we weren’t able to inspect the lines how we wanted to.
“Without that I felt more panicked, I didn’t know the course as much as I hoped but Jen went through it with me so many times to make sure we had it. I was exhausted after this whole period of racing, the nerves and the emotion were just overwhelming so that didn’t make for a great start.
“Having fun changed everything a lot, we just went out there and did our own thing and looked at the achievements. I don’t think what’s happened this week will ever sink in, it was amazing to finish the second race and to win that bronze, my confidence just boosted so high. We just went for it from thereon and I’m so proud of how we came back from that, we worked so hard and left everything out on that hill.”
Jennifer Kehoe added: “On top of what we have achieved today it is such an honour. Great Britain means so much to me and to be able to walk underneath the flag having achieved what we have this week is an absolute honour.”
On her gold medal Kehoe added: “Words don’t even cover what we’re feeling right now, it hasn’t properly sunk in and we left everything out there on that hill, we fought right to the very end. We had a few tears this morning, a ski boot fell on Menna’s head – but I think I’m going to have to push her over more often because she comes back from these things brilliantly.
“After the super-combined slalom we knew that it was close, we knew it was possible to beat Henrieta (Farkasova) because we have done that this season – we just went for it and did everything that was in our control.
“Because I’d seen the split times, I’d seen that Henrieta’s final split was down by a fraction and I dared to believe it was possible at that point. When they came over the finish line and it was red, I was speechless and it was such a proud moment, a dream come true. “It’s a lot to take in, especially from all the support we’ve had back home, we got some amazing messages from our family here and back home, just wishing us all the best and I think that probably played a part.”
Penny Briscoe OBE, Chef de Mission for ParalympicsGB said: “Menna and Jen have had an amazing Paralympic debut. To come to their first Games and win gold, two silvers and a bronze is a remarkable achievement, and one of which they should be so proud. To deliver at a consistently high level across a very demanding programme illustrates not only their talent but also their tenacity and determination, making Menna the perfect choice to carry the Union flag at tonight’s Closing Ceremony.
“It has been thrilling to watch this very talented partnership perform in PyeongChang and I know that every ParalympicsGB team member will be cheering like mad when they enter the stadium with the Union flag tonight, just as they did for that thrilling slalom. They’ve been fearless in their racing and now is the time to enjoy the final moments of these incredible Games.”
Professor Nick Webborn OBE, President of the ParalympicsGB delegation said: “It’s a huge honour for Menna to be chosen to carry the flag for the team as this Games comes to a close. Like everyone back at home, we are hugely proud of Menna and Jen and of their fantastic success in PyeongChang, which is the culmination of many years of hard work.
I know that they will both enjoy the Closing Ceremony this evening, which is sure to be a moment for everyone in ParalympicsGB to celebrate these Games before we start the long journey home.”
Seventeen athletes represented ParalympicsGB in a record five sports at PyeongChang 2018: para alpine skiing, para Nordic skiing (cross-country and biathlon), para snowboard and wheelchair curling.
ParalympicsGB won seven medals at PyeongChang 2018 (one gold, four silver, two bronze), one more than the six won at Sochi 2014.
Report courtesy of Paralympics GB