Jade Etherington was too unwell to complete her 2014 Paralympic Winter Games campaign but the record-breaking skier admitted carrying the British flag at the closing ceremony on Sunday (March 16) made for a perfect ending.
The 23-year-old from Bourne was the stand-out performer of the British team at Sochi 2014, winning an unprecedented four medals from four events prior to Sunday’s final day.
Silver in the downhill on the opening day was followed by super-G bronze and further silvers in the super combined and slalom for the visually impaired skier at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Centre.
Unfortunately Etherington suffered an ovarian cyst rupture – something she had been dealing with in the build-up to the Games – and was too unwell to compete in the giant slalom on the final day.
Etherington spent most of Sunday in a wheelchair but insisted the honour of lifting the British flag at the closing ceremony in Sochi was one she had to do on her feet.
“I was quite shocked to be fair because I didn’t really think about being selected to do it but I was so honoured,” she said.
“I am really grateful that I was selected for my achievements at these Games because they have been so successful.
“It was great to end on a high especially after such a low point on the final day and it really ended the Games on a good note.
“I had some pain the day before my race and went to the hospital for some scans and I found out one of the cysts had ruptured.
“I had been dealing with it for two months before the Games and it hadn’t troubled me during the week but just my luck it happened the night before a race.
“I just want to focus on getting home and getting better. I felt better in the evening for the ceremony but I was taking pain killers for the pain.
“I was in a wheelchair for most of the day but I just knew I needed to stand to lift the flag.”
Etherington, now Great Britain’s most decorated Winter Paralympian, faced many uncertainties before the Games, only linking up with guide Caroline Powell in April 2013.
But with injuries, finite resources and failures to deal with, she admitted her achievements just go to show you achieve anything you put your mind to.
“Sochi has definitely been an unforgettable experience,” she added. “I think from the last four races I have showed that even if something has happened, if you have an aim you are looking to achieve nothing gets in your way.”
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