Ely-born Paralympic alpine skier heading to PyeongChang for 'inspiration' programme
PUBLISHED: 12:39 06 March 2018 | UPDATED: 12:39 06 March 2018
A Paralympic alpine skier who was born in Ely and dreams of representing Great Britain is heading to PyeongChang to get a taste of the Paralympic Games.
John Huntington, 32, was serving in the Adjutant General Corps when, in June 2014, he suffered a brain haemorrhage which left him paralysed from the neck down on his left-hand side.
He is one of six military athletes taking part in the Paralympic Inspiration Programme (PiP), which is run by the British Paralympic Association (BPA) and Help for Heroes.
John, who used to be an ultra-distance runner started with the Armed Forces Para-Snowsport Team in February 2016. Despite having spent time on alpine skis, he had never skied Nordic at that point.
He now trains four days out of every five, often twice a day. He competed in the 2017 IPC Nordic World Cup in the Ukraine and his aim is to qualify and represent Great Britain in the 2022 Winter Paralympic Games.
He said: “The main impacts of my injury on my life were that I was a soldier and a runner; neither of which I can do any more.
“I’ve had to change my lifestyle completely. Since mine is a purely physical injury, and I used to play a large amount of sport prior to becoming injured, sport these days represents a degree of continuity in my life that was largely taken away when I was injured.
“The ability to perform and compete with both able bodied and other injured athletes allows me to remain fit and healthy and gives me performance goals to aim for.
“It also allows me to remain in touch with a part of my life that was largely put behind me when I was injured.”
The aim of PiP is to help athletes understand the scale and scope of the games and learn about some of the aspects of a Paralympic Games, including the village, the media spotlight and mixed zone.
There will also be lessons about nutrition, media, anti-doping, competition planning and goal setting.
Other athletes taking part in the programme are from the world of para nordic skiing, wheelchair curling, para canoe and wheelchair tennis.
“Hopefully PiP is the starting point of my own Paralympic journey. For me, it not only represents a worthy and high goal to aim for but also some personal vindication that despite my injury I can still perform to the high standards that I used to be able to.
“I hope to see exactly how the Winter Paralympics works in order to allow me to prepare for my own Paralympic journey down the line.”
The initiative, which was first launched in London 2012, gives athletes and coaching staff the opportunity to experience several days at a Paralympic Games.
It aims to provide developing athletes with knowledge that will prepare them for a future Games as a selected athlete, as well as inspire and excite potential future Paralympians in their ambitions.