JAMES Whitley admits his emotions got to him when he found out he had been selected for the Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympics but the Wilmington alpine skier intends to be as cool as ice in Russia.
A skier since the age of four, Whitley can look forward to fulfilling his Paralympic dream after being named as part of a 15-strong British team for the Games, which begins on March 7.
It comes after the 16-year-old put in a series of impressive performances including a finish of 16th in the giant slalom at last year’s World Championships in what was his first major international event.
And, after receiving his full Great Britain kit alongside the rest of the team, Whitley, who attends Millfield School, revealed he had been sure to let his fellow pupils know when he got the good news.
“It means everything to me to be going to Sochi, I have worked so hard all my life to get there, and I’m so happy to finally get a place,” said Whitley. I found out quite recently when I was at school so obviously I went a bit mad, a few people found a little bit earlier than then should have.
“It was just after lessons luckily but I was really excited. I just really enjoy the speed and the freedom of racing.
“I first really heard about the Paralympics when I got skiing on the British team, I thought I would never be able to do that, it would be a long way to do it. But once I really put myself into it and focused on what I was going to do to get there, it all just fell into place in terms of getting to Sochi.
“I’m just aiming to do the best I possibly can. I can’t say any position I want to get, because I’m focused on doing the best possible and hopefully that will reflect in what place I come.”
Whitley has risen rapidly since being recruited as the youngest member of the British Disabled Ski Team’s elite squad.
And he admits it is work, both on and off the snow, that has contributed to his strong season so far, including an 11th place finish in his first ever World Cup slalom.
“It’s been going extremely well this season because I’ve had a lot of good results,” he added. “I’ve been able to ski clean and fast, remembering the course well at the start gate. I’ve been training a lot off the slopes as well which really enabled me to get as many qualification points as possible.”
- 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