Post 22 South Korea and the Winter Paralympics.
Updated: Mar 5
We arrived at Incheon airport near Seoul, early on a rainy morning. Then off to the car hire desk to collect our car. Fingers crossed the driving would be better than in most countries we had visited! It was!
We drove the 140 miles to our Hotel, where many other athlete’s families were staying. It was a beautiful Hotel, with stunning grounds and gardens, although they were carpeted with snow on arrival. So far so good. Then the cracks started to appear. This huge luxurious hotel didnt have a public Tv. We hadn’t gone to the medals ceremony as Jen and Menna would not be attending due to a 4am start the next morning, so we all wanted to watch together. Eventually I persuaded them to bring 6 chairs to our room!
Next day.. Downhill race. The venue was a 30 minute drive from the Hotel. We set off at 7.00 so that we could ‘bag’ the front seats and hang all the GB flags up, with Menna’s family, and James Whitley’s family.
We were a vociferous bunch, but we enthusiastically supported the whole British team and became known as Skiing’s GB barmy army!
David had come out without Jen knowing, so we put him in the car boot and gave Jen a huge surprise.
He then surprised us all by wearing a super Union flag Onesie for every race! He became a star in his own right!
David being interviewed by the announcer.
As regards the racing, well it got off to a sticky start with Menna crashing out in the downhill at 90 kph. How would that affect confidence?
We needn’t have worried. The next day saw Jen using all her powers of persuasion, and they visibly sped up as Menna’s confidence return, to win a Bronze in Super G. As it was mother’s day, and Menna’s parents anniversary, Mair, David and I got to go down and surprise them while they were being interviewed for Channel 4. So I was seen across the nation, crying my eyes out!!
This is the face of a girl who realises she is a Paralympic medallist
David and Dan went out to explore the nightlife and returned rather the worse for wear after lots of bars and a karaoke club. I was tempted to included the shaky video of David belting out ‘Dancing Queen’, but common sense prevailed!
Day 3 was Super combined. One run downhill and one slalom. Super skiing got them silver behind Henrietta Farkasova, who was claiming her 3rd Gold.
Day 4 was giant slalom..and they did it again. Another silver. Incredible. The girls were allowed out for a celebratory meal.
Interspersed with skiing were the medals ceremonies. The atmosphere was electric and I sobbed unashamedly at these girls who had both fought back from injuries, and were now exceeding expectations.
Back at the Hotel, things went from bad to worse in the restaurant. They closed at 8.30, ran out of food, and the meals were often cold! Grrrrrr.
A three day gap, where the weather went from a high of 19 degrees, to a high of 3 degrees!! A nightmare for the snow conditions!
We found a beautiful temple a few mils from the hotel. First built in 600 AD it is still a monastery today.
It had a stunning Origami display too. Yes these are made out of folded paper!
We also watched and supported the snowboarders and went to a great ice hockey match by speedy train!
Then it was Sunday. The last day of competition – the Slalom. There were some slalom specialists racing too, and of course, the unassailable Farkasova.
We watched with bated breath to see the girls ski superbly in their first run to be 1.66 secs behind Farkasova and just 0.04 ahead of Millie.
The scene was set for an entertaining final run. And it delivered. Millie skied well which put pressure on Menna and Jen. They skied a blinder and overtook Millie. Lastly Farkasova … and we think the pressure of going for her 5th gold was too much. She tensed up and was slower. Gold for Menna and Jen! Unbelievable. Only our second ever gold since the Winter Paralympics began, and also Menna and Jen become the most decorated GB winter paralympians.
What a moment. We went wild.
With Millies three medals and Menna’s four, GB reached their target of 7 medals.
Ade Adepitan from channel 4 had come to sit with us for the race, between Menna’s mum Mair and me. We held hands through every race!
This medals ceremony was on the ski run, and we were all so emotional and proud as the GB flags were hauled high and the National Anthem rang out. We all sang loudly!
Menna and Jen were being interviewed by everyone, but we sneaked some great photos, then dashed back to the Hotel to change for the closing ceremony.
A missed exit and 4km traffic jams meant the journey to the stadium was very stressful, bit we made it.
A real spectacle, capped by Menna and Jen being the flagbearers for Team GB.
Then just time to see them for hugs and kisses before we parted. They fly home early Monday, while we fly to Japan!!
The flight home with British Airways was a big party. The crew had hung bunting, played the National Anthem, had special champagne labels made, and recruited some extra staff to help with trolley service!! David and Dan look rather fetching.
They even have new pilots!!
They had a heroes welcome at Heathrow, with Peter and Tracy joining them for a reception in the evening.
What an amazing Paralympic Games.
1 x bronze 2 x silver 1 x GOLD.
Huge congratulations to Menna and Jen… and I think I can stop taking the blood pressure tablets now! All the mums were nervous wrecks!
What a trip… what a result. So proud to be able to share in it, especially after having cancer 7 years ago.
Now onto the last part of our trip. Japan!