World of Sport

How Paralympian’s golden joy turned to poverty and dismay on return home

World of Sport

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Paralympic gold medal winners Kelly Gallagher (right) and her guide Charlotte Evans

Britain's first ever Paralympic gold medallist thought life could get no better when she won the Super-G skiing at the Winter Paralympics in Sochi.

But the joy of victory won't pay the bills - and on her return home, Gallagher admitted that she is penniless.

"We are skint, we are less than skint, we have no money," she said, adding that her guide Charlotte Evans (pictured above with Gallagher) is also in financial dire straits.

Gallagher hit the headlines when she claimed the title, and said that she is determined to continue the sport despite all the hardships it throws at her.

"We’ve been through so much. I’ve been through so much injury that my body is a wreck, Charlotte’s deferred her university course," she explained.

"We love this sport and I’m so glad that people are getting to see they can achieve whatever they want to achieve through throwing themselves at something."

Yet while Gallagher has said that she is determined to carry on - even though the visually-impaired skier faces massive uncertainty over funding for the next Games in 2018 - her team-mate Jade Etherington has admitted that she may have to quit the sport.

Etherington claimed four medals in Sochi, but has since said that she will leave the sport unless she could be certain of funding to keep her going over the next four years.

The British team in Sochi was funded by a £750,000 grant from UK Sport, but a report in the Daily Telegraph claims that £5 million would be needed to send a full team to Pyeongchang.

Britain only had representatives for two sports in Sochi - skiing and wheelchair curling - and scaling the nation's efforts up in four years' time is far from certain.

"We are delighted about the six medals, reaching the medal target that was agreed with UK Sport," Penny Briscoe, the Paralympics GB performance director, told the Telegraph.

"Both sports represented in Sochi medalled which is fantastic for the team, but we had a number of debutants on the slopes with personal best times finishes and five athletes under 20 years of age, who performed incredibly too.

"But that has to be tempered by the fact we only had two of the winter sports in Sochi…

"Funding is based on results in part, and also being able to present a business case to UK Sport… From a skiing perspective and curling perspective we feel pretty confident, but it’s work in progress in terms of developing the entire winter sport programme for ParalympicsGB," she added.

"We didn’t have any snowboard representation or sledge hockey representation in Russia and the significant number of medals in both biathlon and Nordic that we haven’t seen since the 1990s.

"The standard of Paralympic Winter sport is no different to the summer sport programme: the bar’s being set higher and higher and therefore for us to be competitive we’ve got to have more robust programmes."

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