Kiwi Paralympian 'wordless' after crashing to gold medal win

21:24, Mar 16 2010

New Zealand paralympic skier Adam Hall is "wordless" after recovering from a fall to win gold in the standup slalom at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Paralympic Games.

Hall blitzed the field at Whistler Creekside in 50.95 seconds on his first run, 2.13 seconds faster than the next competitor.

He sealed gold in his second run, but looked devastated when he thought his fall had cost him gold.

He scrambled up to finish the run, then looked disbelieving when the results board showed he had won the gold.

"I can't explain it, I'm wordless. It's been a 15 year dream to come here and win a gold medal. To come here and do it is unbelievable,'' Hall said.

He had earlier declared a belief that he could win in Vancouver.

''All you think about is a gold medal you don’t come here to come second. To do that is unbelievable.

"I've always wanted to go to the Paralympics and win a gold medal."

He said he was determined not to let his tumble affect his finish.

''I had such a good huge advantage in my first run. When I fell, I just got up ... I didn’t think about where I’d end up. It was just get back up on the horse and leave everything I could up there and cross the finish line. To see my name and my country on top of the scoreboard is unbelievable and emotional as well.

''The snow conditions were a lot different between the runs. It softened up on the second run, it was more challenging.

''I didn’t lose too much time on the fall and I thought I’d be on the podium.”

New Zealand team chef de mission Jon Turnbull described Hall's gold medal performance as "pretty mind-blowing".

"It got a bit sketchy on his second run but fortunately he had enough on the first run. It's just fantastic," Turnbull told Stuff.co.nz from Vancouver.

Turnbull said while a couple of Hall's competitors would be disappointed with their efforts he had done enough on the day and that was all that mattered.

He felt Hall had copped well with the pressure of being one of the race favourites.

"Adam's ranking was high that everywhere we go within this sport he is known and talked about. He handled that pressure very well.

"He's the ultimate professional with his preparation and he has been rewarded."

Turnbull said Hall had got plenty of vocal support as he charged to victory.

"The support here is pretty similar to New Zealand's size on the globe but they can make a lot of noise."

Hall's total elapsed time was 1:45.40. German Gerd Schonfelder was second in 1:45.97 and Rahles-Rahbula third.

Adam Hall, a gold medal winner for New Zealand at the 2010 Winter Olympics, skies at Cardrona, Wanaka, in 2009.
GOLD MEDAL: Adam Hall, a gold medal winner for New Zealand at the 2010 Winter Olympics, skies at Cardrona, Wanaka, in 2009.

He has two more events to run in Vancouver and reckons he is an outside medal chance.

''I'm going to isolate myself a bit and just really focus on that now,'' he promised after celebrating this victory.

Hall has been a member of the New Zealand disabled ski team since 2005 and attended the 2006 Torino Paralympics in Italy.

He hasn't had a summer since 2000, training in winters in both hemispheres and was based in Colorado in his buildup to Vancouver.

Hall was born with spina bifida but is able to walk and has skied since he was six.

In 2008 and 2009 he was named NZ Snowsports Disabled Skier of the Year as well as the NZ Snowsports Athlete of the Year in both of those years.

He was New Zealand’s flagbearer in Vancouver.

New Zealand last won a medal at a Paralympics Winter Games in 2002 at Salt Lake City

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