Australian snowboarder Simon Patmore – who only took up the sport competitively a tick over three years ago – has become the first Australian male to medal at both a Summer and Winter Paralympic Games.
Six years after winning bronze at the London Paralympics, as a 200m sprinter, Patmore claimed gold in the men’s snowboard cross – defeating Italian Manuel Pozzerle in the final.
It was Australia’s first Winter Paralympic gold in 16 years.
Better, the history-making run had a moment of drama when Patmore, leading the Italian, suffered a slight bobble as he headed down the mountain.
And as for thoughts at the time?
“Oh, shit,” he laughed. “Sorry, but yes. I thought it was over.
“I honestly thought it was over. Thank God it was great snow conditions to keep me up … I just threw it out of my mind and continued to race down.
“I was just holding back the tears,” the 30-year-old admitted.
“My goggles fogged up as soon as I crossed the line. I had to collapse on the ground or I would have run straight into everyone.”
Born with Erb’s palsy – a disease which paralysed the nerves in his left arm – Patmore had seen snow only once when approached in 2014 by the Australian Paralympic identification team.
And that had been at age eight.
However, the Queenslander is now only the sixth athlete to compete in both Summer and Winter Paralympic Games – and joins Jess Gallagher as the only other duel medallist.
He is also our first Winter Paralympian to win gold since Salt Lake City, 2002.
That year alpine skiers Michael Milton and Bart Bunting bagged six between them – with the pair taking four and two gold medals respectively.
Asked if he was aware of just how long the drought had been, Patmore continued: “I don’t know how long but, man, when you guys say first gold for a while and first male athlete for Summer and Winter, I’m really proud.
“I really want to show everyone that it can be done.”
Ironically, Australia’s current Chef de Mission Nick Dean also last held that same post when Australia won gold in 2002.
“I was there and it’s been a long time,” he said. “A medal of any colour is great but I forgot how good gold is.
“Simon was clinical today. Absolutely cool, calm and clinical.
“He was terrific.”
Considered an outside chance to medal at his first games here at PyeongChang, Patmore finished the regular competition in third.
He then won three consecutive qualifying finals, where riders battle the mountain in pairs, before scoring what turned out to be a comprehensive win over Italian Pozzerle in the decider.
Able to run 100m in 11.14 seconds, the Aussie also won gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, before doubling down with a bronze medal in London.
In what was his Paralympic debut, Patmore ran 22.36 – a time which put him just over three-tenths of a second behind even the gold medallist, Brazilian Yohansson Nascimento.
The keen skateboarder has now medalled again in his Winter Paralympic debut.