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Beijing 2022: Neil Simpson wins Britain’s first gold

neil simpson
neil simpson Image credit: theguardian.com

Neil Simpson (pictured above) has won Britain’s first gold medal at the Beijing Winter Paralympics finishing 0.40 seconds ahead of Italian Giacomo Bertagnoll in the men’s Super-G vision impaired class.

Simpson, guided by his brother Andrew, waited at the bottom of the slope to check if anyone could beat him – they didn’t!

“Initially when we came down and Andrew said we had gone in to first place, there was a bit of an anxious wait,” said Simpson.

“I wasn’t thinking about it being a winning performance, I was just thinking that it was a good run. We put it all down on the line and really went for it and I’m just very happy with the performance.”

The athlete, who was born with nystagmus, he owes his victory to his sibling.

 “You are able to be very clear and concise in what you want, even direct and blunt sometimes. You don’t have to beat around the bush, so that definitely helps,” Neil told Channel 4.

Andrew said: “It’s amazing to win it with my brother. It’s something we’ve been working towards for a long, long time, and you know, even to get to the Paralympics is a real honour.”

Menna Fitzpatrick won silver in the women’s Super-G vision impaired class. The road to Beijing has been a challenging one for the 23-year-old athlete who broke her leg in March 2020 and came to the games without regular guide Katie Guest after she tested positive for Covid.

“To be here at all is a great achievement,” she said after passing the finish line. “But to stand up on that podium is absolutely amazing. I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved together.”

Her new guide Gary Smith, who stepped in for Guest, told Channel 4: “I was so happy with how Menna had done in the downhill [where she finished fifth on Saturday], and I just kept on telling her how much I believed in her and how much she could do. I was really proud of it today.”

Fitzpatrick’s teammate Millie Knight finished fourth behind Zhu Daqing of China who won bronze and Slovakia’s Alexandra Rexova who claimed gold.

China’s Zheng Peng won gold in the men’s long-distance sitting event and there was another victory for his home country when Yang Hongqiong won the women’s long distance sitting cross-country race.

Norway won their first gold of the competition when Jesper Pedersen claimed victory in the men’s sitting super-G.

Neil Simpson made his debut at the 2021 World Para Snow Sports Championships where he won a silver medal in the super combined.