Carl Murphy eyes gold despite disrupted buildup

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 05:00 14/03/2014
Carl Murphy
Fairfax NZ
KIWI BOARDER: Carl Murphy.

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Even two months on the sidelines won't stop Carl Murphy from targeting a gold medal at the Winter Paralympics in Sochi.

Murphy, a below the knee amputee, would have been one of the favourites to secure a medal in snowboard cross's debut at the Paralympics tonight but a bad training accident just before Christmas put a serious dent in his preparation.

The former New Plymouth resident fractured his tibial plateau and partially ruptured the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) and was on crutches for six weeks, with another fortnight integrating back on to snow.

''We did make lots of gains in the New Zealand season, so my progression back into snow was really fast and I'm pretty much back to where I was. The only downside is I didn't get to race on the World Cup circuit.''

At the end of the 2012/2013 season Murphy was jointly ranked No. 1  one in the world.

He won silver at the Paralympic Games test event last year and gold and silver medals at the World Cup at Big White in Canada in 2013.

During the northern hemisphere 2012 season he claimed several podium places including a silver medal at the Para-Snowboard world championships.

Murphy competes in the Lower Limb Impaired category, riding his board with the same setup as an able-bodied athlete with the help of a custom-designed carbon fibre prosthetic leg.

Snowboard cross was added to the Paralympic programme in May 2012 and features a narrow course made of snow features including cambered turns, jumps, berms and steep and flat sections.

Competitors complete three timed runs, with the two fastest times added together for the final result.

Murphy has changed his tactical approach during the build up to Sochi.

Instead of laying down a ''safe'' opening run, he'll be going all out in his opening ride to try and put pressure on the opposition.

Asked whether tensions over Russia's aggressive stance in the Ukraine had filtered through to the Winter Paralympics, Murphy, who will be supported by his wife, Aleisha, and young son Oliver in Sochi, said the New Zealand athletes were under team orders not to discuss the political situation.

Adam Hall and Corey Peters were scheduled to compete in the slalom this morning, with Hall trying to defend the gold medal he won in Vancouver four years ago.

The pair will also be competing tonight in the rescheduled giant slalom section of the Super Combi event, which was postponed on Tuesday night due to fog and rain.

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The snowboard cross gets under way from 7pm tonight and can be watched live at AttitudeLive.com

- The Southland Times

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