CAROLINE Powell insists her Winter Paralympic debut has proved to both her and Jade Etherington that they are now a world-class pair capable of threatening the globe’s very best.
The 19-year-old from Basildon was unable to compete on the final day of the Sochi 2014 Games yesterday after Etherington was too unwell to start the women’s visually impaired giant slalom.
Despite that disappointment, guide Powell and Etherington can reflect on a record-breaking Games that saw them pick up four medals in as many events.
Downhill silver on day one was followed by super-G bronze and further silvers in the super combined and slalom making Etherington the first Brit to gain four medals from a single Winter Paralympics.
And, reflecting on their stellar performances on the Sochi slopes, Powell, who lives in Langdon Hills, admits her and Etherington’s expectations were well and truly exceeded.
“The night before (the giant slalom) Jade felt unwell and we made a call in the morning that it was best to pull out,” said Powell.
“She would not have been 100 per cent and, while it would have been nice to finish off with another race, at that level you can’t risk the danger of her getting hurt.
“We woke up and definitely realised it has been a very successful week and we were both so happy with how it all went and the performance we put in.
“We were so consistent and we just couldn’t get to the top of the podium but we showed even against the best we can match them.
“Our expectations definitely changed throughout. We never expected to get silver in the downhill because there was no final training run and we didn’t know the course as well as everyone else.
“We were then able to keep our level up and we can only be happy with what we achieved.
“As a whole it has been very surreal and tiring and there have been times where you wanted to give up, but we pushed on and treated things as a normal race and that helped.”
Despite being unable to compete on the final day, the pair did round off their Games in style as Etherington was able to lead Powell out as the flag bearer during the closing ceremony.
And Powell admitted it was nice to be led for a change by Etherington, who was fully deserving of the honour having seen the Union Jack raised four times during the Games.
“Jade got to lead me for once with the flag and I was really happy she got the chance to lift it,” she added. “We can all be very proud of what ParalympicsGB have achieved.
“It was great that Jade got to lift the flag after it had been raised four times for us throughout the week.”
l 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