Sport

Full Circle: How GB Team & Veteran Could Make 20-Year Para-Nordic Comeback

Three British athletes are hoping to help the UK make a long-awaited comeback into Para-Nordic skiing at the Winter Paralympics in South...

British athletes are hoping to help the UK make a long-awaited comeback into Para-Nordic skiing at the Winter Paralympics in South Korea.

The UK has not fielded any competitors in the discipline for two decades but now three hopefuls have come along at once, all of whom served in the Armed Forces.

Terry Ahrens was the last person to wear a GB Para-Nordic skiing vest 20 years ago - and now he wants to do so again.

He represented Great Britain at the 1998 Paralympics, where he recorded a sixth-place finish.

Winter Paralympics Para-Nordic GB hopeful Terry Ahrens

A sergeant in the Queen's Royal Lancers cavalry regiment, he got into the sport after a road traffic accident paralysed his left arm when he was just 22.

Now 47, he was called back initially in an advisory role with the British team but then found he still had the skiing skills and speed to compete.

Speaking to Forces Network's Cath Brazier from the Help for Heroes Recovery Centre at Tedworth House, he said:

"It's brilliant to be back on snow again. I've realised how much I've missed it.

"Now I've been brought back into it [the sport] again, you just realise how much I do love it. It's reinvigorated me."

Terry's GB teammates Scott Meenagh and Steve Arnold, both double leg amputees, complete the military line-up hoping to compete in Pyeongchang in March.

Both younger men are well-known Invictus competitors, with Scott having put his hand to many sports, including indoor rowing for a number of years.

He said: "Before my injury, I'd only ever played football and rugby... [but afterwards] your whole life's been turned upside-down. You've lost everything that was ever your identity.

"So you have to spend a period where you try a little bit of everything until you find what's right for you again.

"I found a real purpose and a real focus in rowing and... now [with] Para-Nordic [skiing].

"I never set out to go to the Paralympic Games but I'm really proud of the fact that we're [now] on the cusp of a really special opportunity."

Steve, meanwhile, has enjoyed success in cycling. At the most recent games in Toronto, he won two gold medals and was one of Team UK's vice-captains. He said:

"It's been quite tough to start a new programme but it's also been very exciting... Hopefully, we'll have a team for many more years [to come]. 

"Unfortunately we're not funded but we're supported massively by Help for Heroes and the AFPST [the Armed Forces Para-Snowsport Team].

"That's helped get us around to find the snow [in countries like Canada, Germany and Norway] because as everyone knows, there's not much snow in the UK [for us] to train on."

Terry, Scott and Steve will find out in the next couple of weeks if they have been selected for the Winter Paralympics.

It would be another chance for all of them to represent their country, wearing the GB colours at the highest level.

With thanks to Help for Heroes for video footage and imagery.

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