Jaclyn Narracott blasted her way into the history books by winning Australia’s first-ever medal in a sliding event with silver in the women’s skeleton at the Beijing Winter Games on Sunday morning (AEDT).
The 31-year-old Queenslander entered the final two rounds top of the world rankings, needing the lowest combined time across four rounds to claim gold.
She launched her final push in perfect style with a winning run in her third run at the Yanqing National Sliding Center in Beijing on Saturday night.
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However, her main rival, Germany’s Hannah Neise, quickly improved her record time, leaving Narracott 0.14 seconds off the pace with one run remaining.
Narracott clocked an incredible time of one minute 2.11 seconds in his fourth and final run to give himself a shot at gold, but once again 21-year-old Neise edged him to win the gold by just 0.62 seconds over his four races.
The medal marks Australia’s fourth medal of these Games, making Beijing 2022 the scene of Australia’s biggest Winter Olympics medal haul.
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Narracott looked emotional as she learned of the medal immediately after her final race, with her green and gold gumshield on display.
“It’s still so surreal… absolute elation!” said Narracott, who also became the first Australian to win a skeleton World Cup gold medal after stepping onto the podium in St Moritz, Switzerland, last month.
“Words cannot describe it. We’ve never won a medal in sliding sports, so for me, that’s it… Fulfilling your dream twice in two races doesn’t get any better”.
Bringing Australia’s medal tally to four in 2022, Narracott finished 16th on her Olympic debut four years ago.
She arrived in Beijing in the best shape of her career, becoming the first Australian to win a skeleton World Cup gold medal, having reached the podium in St Moritz, Switzerland, last month.
She is coached by her husband Dom Parsons, who won a bronze medal in the skeleton for Great Britain at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games before retiring, and he is by her side in Beijing.
Team chef de mission Geoff Lipshut praised Narracott’s achievement earlier Saturday just to be in medal position.
“It’s a remarkable individual effort, someone has made an effort to go around the world circuit, largely funding themselves,” he said.
“Jackie is supported by the system, but it’s a huge individual effort.
“We only won six gold medals in winter sports.”
In the skeleton, athletes use a small sled to race headfirst down a frozen track, reaching speeds of up to 140 kilometers per hour.
Narracott’s uncle, Paul Narracott, was the first Australian to compete in the Summer and Winter Olympics.
He competed as a track sprinter at the Los Angeles Games in 1984 before joining the two-man team in Albertville in 1992.
Narracott joined the Australian bobsleigh team in Europe in 2011, where she met the national skeleton coaches who convinced her to make the switch.
She made her first outing on a skeleton sled in March 2012 and made her Skeleton World Cup debut at the end of 2014.
– With PAA
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