Rejuvenated James Barnes-Miller eyes spot on Winter Paralympics podium



Rejuvenated James Barnes-Miller says his wide-eyed days of soaking in the big stage Paralympic lights are now firmly behind him.

And the bullish British boarder reckons adopting a more ruthless, medal-focussed mentality can provide the perfect storm to propel him onto the podium in Beijing.

Barnes-Miller, 32, will descend on the Chinese capital this week gunning to improve on his seventh-place snowboard cross finish at PyeongChang 2018.

He also finished tenth in the banked slalom event but it’s the high-octane, head-to-head nature of snowboard cross that he considers his strongest suit.

Barnes-Miller immersed himself in the Paralympic environment four years ago but believes embracing a more battle-hardened mindset can haul him up the standings next week.

“I feel in way better stead this time,” said Barnes-Miller, one of over 1,000 athletes able to train full-time, access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support thanks to vital National Lottery funding .

“I know what I’m going into – the Paralympic Games are a big show, there’s way more press and way more interest.

“I took that all in the first time [in PyeongChang]. I went there and had the whole experience. But now I can just go in knowing what to expect and just focusing on the racing.

“The last Games [was about enjoying it] – this time, I really want to get on the podium in both of my events. That’s really where I want to be – I’m going into every race now, not expecting, but hoping I can get on the podium.

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“It would mean everything [to win a medal] – it’s been a busy, weird four years, so it would just be incredible.”

Barnes-Miller doesn’t like doing things the easy way. After making his Paralympic debut in South Korea, he cracked his collar bone in three places before embarking on a grievous period of rehabilitation to get him back firing.

Another serious shoulder injury just before Christmas could have further derailed his progress but after bagging three medals at last month’s World Championships, he will arrive in Beijing in red-hot form.

Barnes-Miller was crowned Crystal Globe champion last season and as part of a 25-athlete ParalympicsGB squad – the biggest since Lillehammer 1994 – looks to carry one of Britain’s main medal hopes.

It’s been a rollercoaster journey to his second Games and he now hopes his tale can inspire the next generation of talent on the biggest stage of all.

“It’s wicked – I’m buzzing and I’m really stoked,” added Barnes-Miller, who is aiming to the 1,000-plus medals achieved by British athletes since the advent of National Lottery funding to elite sport in 1997.

“It does take a lot, especially when you have a big fall or injury, to get back up and go again.

“You have to have something about you. Getting knocked down and having to get back up when you get knocked down properly takes a bit.

“It’s cool and massive as an opportunity – the more people we get watching, the more we can open it up to and get either competing, or just out on the snow.

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“I don’t feel like a role model – I just go out there and try my best and hope that inspires people who want to go out and have a go on a snowboard.”

No one does more to support our Olympic and Paralympic athletes than National Lottery players, who raise more than £30 million each week for good causes including grassroots and elite sport. Discover the positive impact playing the National Lottery has at www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved by using the hashtag: #TNLAthletes


www.independent.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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