Travelling 140km/h downhill head-first on ice is not for the faint-hearted, but Jackie Narracott is no shrinking violet. After her first attempt at the sport, she asked: how do I go faster?
Ahead of her second Winter Olympics, which starts in Beijing next week, Narracott talks to On Side about her switch from the track, what it’s like going head-first at 140km/h, her hopes for the upcoming Games, and her impressive family pedigree.
She is, after all, following in the footsteps of her famous uncle, Paul – the first Australian Olympian to compete at both Summer and Winter Games.
Fast forward 10 years and Narracott, who is based in the UK, became the first Australian to win a World Cup gold medal in skeleton when she broke the track record in Switzerland a couple of weeks ago.
That amazing run came in St Moritz, where she broke the track record with a time of 1:08.72 seconds to shock the field. “Everything came together, right time, right place,” she admits. “I’ve always known I can do it, now I’ve got that concrete evidence to say, ‘I’m not crazy, I can actually do it’, which his nice.”
Putting on the Australian jacket for the 2018 Games was “an absolute dream come true”, she says, however she feels she is “in a much better position to perform …. this time around I think it’s about achieving my potential”.
For his part, “Uncle Paul”, who once beat Carl Lewis over 60 metres, told On Side that he was thrilled his exploits “opened her eyes to the fact that there are sporting opportunities other than the mainstream sports”.
He encourages everyone to look beyond traditional sports - like Jackie did.
“It’s a 10-year journey and it’s only really the last 3-4 years where it’s really coming together [for Jackie],” he says. “I thinks she’s a real chance, she’s not a favourite, but she’s a realistic chance [in Beijing].”
We also talk to our most successful Winter Paralympian Michael Milton, who won six gold, three silver and two bronze medals.
“Snow, ice, it’s magical stuff as to how much fun you can have on it,” he says. “How high you can jump. How fast you can go. For me, everything around winter sports is based on snow and ice and it’s fantastic fun to do as an athlete.”
He also discusses our chances at the Paralympics, the impact of Covid-19 on the Games, and how Dylan Alcott is changing society’s perceptions of people with a disability.
“The more people with disabilities that we see in every different area of our lives, whether it be social, whether it be work, whether it be on television as elite athletes, the more we can include people with disabilities in every single area of our life the better off society will be, the better off those people with disabilities will be.”
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