Updated: Sunday, 17th June 2018 @ 7:49am

Winter Paralympic Games: Macclesfield's Fitzpatrick high on confidence ahead of PyeongChang

Winter Paralympic Games: Macclesfield's Fitzpatrick high on confidence ahead of PyeongChang

| By Ross Lawson

Ten World Cup medals in ten competitions tells you all you need to know about Macclesfield-based skier Menna Fitzpatrick – she’s going to the Winter Paralympic Games on top form.

Aged just 19, the teenager (above left) is just days away from embarking on her first Games having already settled into the cut and thrust of life in PyeongChang.

But she does so with an air of confidence in her skiing, places on the podium shifting from hopeful to probable to expected over the course of the year.

In visually impaired skiing an athlete is not alone, with Jennifer Kehoe the one with the task of guiding Fitzpatrick down both safely and competitively.

Whether she leaves South Korea with a medal or not will undoubtedly depend on that bond – but this Welsh-born athlete is full of belief that will be the case.

“I’m pretty sure Jen could say anything and I would follow her down the slope, we know each other that well,” said Fitzpatrick.

“There are so many difficult bits to what we do but we make it add up.

“We’re really pleased with the way the season has gone so far, last year I injured myself and the results weren’t quite as we wanted them to be, so coming into this season we weren’t really expecting much.

“You definitely dream of what might happen in PyeongChang, it’s our first Paralympics so we’re just going out there to try and do our best.

“If we do win a medal then that will be absolutely amazing, but we’re ultimately there to do our best.”

Born with congenital retinal folds, Fitzpatrick has no vision in her left eye and limited sight in her right and is set to race behind guide Kehoe in PyeongChang.

The pair communicate via Bluetooth headsets, just about able to see the outline of Kehoe ahead of her, a partnership that has certainly blossomed since first coming together in 2015.

To the uneducated, visually impaired skiing is difficult but, in the views of Fitzpatrick’s guide Kehoe, it’s a whole lot harder than that.

“If you look at all the top visually impaired teams, male or female, the ones who are doing the best have generally worked together for a slightly longer period because you know what you’re doing,” she said.

“It’s such a complex sport that you need that – I heard a great quote the other day where someone said, ‘It’s not rocket science, it’s much, much harder than that’ and that perfectly describes our sport to a tee.

“It’s great fun, but at the same time it’s very hard – make no bones about that.

“We’ve rehearsed what we do that much and so it almost becomes second nature, which is so important.”

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 http://www.j-sainsbury.co.uk/