Meenagh thrilled to fulfil his Paralympic dream
Scott Meenagh's maiden Paralympic Winter Games was in full force in South Korea this week - but he is already looking ahead to Beijing 2022.
Only next time, the Nordic skier from Cumbernauld is determined not to be flying the flag solo.
Meenagh has spent his time in PyeongChang defying both the odds and history, becoming ParalympicsGB’s first competitor in the sport for 20 years.
He finished in day one’s biathlon, 17th men’s 15km sitting cross country and 13th in Tuesday’s 12.5km sitting biathlon.
He still has three events to come but the 28-year-old - who lost both his legs after stepping on an improvised explosive device (IED) when serving in Afghanistan - is already shifting gradually to a future where he wants other British Nordic skiers to join him on the start line.
“Anybody who sits in this seat and gives it a go would agree, this is a tough, tough sport – probably one of the most difficult you could ever do,” he said.
“But I love it, I love being around such high-calibre performers, people who do inspirational and unbelievable things, it’s just brilliant.
“I’m immensely proud to be on that start line every time I race, to be a little bit competitive is a real privilege but that’s testament to the hard training that goes into this and the team that got me here.”
He continued: “The aim is Beijing. But I hope these Games can be a chance to showcase just how awesome this sport is, the challenge, the variety, the physicality it offers, but also the accuracy and the patience to keep it together while shooting.
“If any others get involved, they would love it, hopefully there will be more people on the start line in the coming years.”
Meenagh was inspired to try Para Nordic skiing after getting a taste of winter sport during Sochi 2014, where he experienced life on the Paralympic Inspiration Programme.
Before that para-rowing was his main addiction, all after his life changed when stepping on an improvised explosive device (IED) when serving in Afghanistan, aged 21.
But the journey since has taken him to the Paralympic pinnacle, with his third race in PyeongChang coming in the men’s 12.5km sitting biathlon.
Finishing 13th, Meenagh missed five targets on the shooting range but, as he competed ski for ski with the world’s best, he allowed himself a bit of slack to be cut.
“It was not a free ride out there, you had to work for every yard in a really, really tough race – probably one of the toughest I’ve ever been involved in,” he added.
“Five shots is usually disappointing but in the grand scheme of things, with the conditions and racing as it was, I can settle for that, it isn’t good enough for this standard of racing but I’ll give it to myself for this one.
“I raced pretty hard, I’m pretty proud of my performance.
“This experience has just been amazing, each race is a whole new kettle of fish, you’ve got to hit it so hard – you can’t begin to fade away at any point in the race and it’s ferocious.
“But I’m continuing to work hard and learn, it’s what I’m here for and I’m doing everything with a smile on my face. It’s a privilege to be here.”
Sainsbury’s is a proud long-term supporter of the British Paralympic Association and a champion of inclusive sport for all. For more on Sainsbury’s commitment to inclusive sport visit http://www.j-sainsbury.co.uk/