Bourne’s Jade Etherington capped a remarkable first Paralympic Games by helping bring the 2014 Sochi to a close when she proudly carried the Union Flag into the closing ceremony.
Etherington, 23, and guide Caroline Powell, 19, took the role of flag bearer for Great Britain, in recognition of an amazing set of performances throughout the Games.
Their three silver and one bronze medals in alpine skiing make them the most successful British winter Paralympic athletes of all time and have helped to make this ParalympicsGB’s most successful ever Winter Paralympic Games.
Etherington said: “I feel tremendously privileged to be selected to carry our flag in front of an international crowd and specifically the GB audience back home.
“We’ve raised the flag four times this week already so this time it will be nice to carry it. Being visually impaired, I’ll be able to see this one!
“As we missed the Opening Ceremony, we are really excited to both be getting to go to the Closing Ceremony. And for a change I’ll be the one guiding Caroline around, as well as the whole team.”
The decision on the flag-bearer was made by a senior management team of ParalympicsGB staff members, headed by Chef de Mission Penny Briscoe.
Briscoe said: “Amidst some fantastic and record breaking performances over the last week, on both snow and ice, this wasn’t an easy decision to make. Jade, supported by Caroline, has delivered consistent medal winning performances in each of the races she has competed in making her Britain’s most celebrated Winter Paralympian. She is thoroughly deserving of the honour to be the Flag Bearer at the Closing Ceremony and I am delighted for her.”
ParalympicsGB delivered on the promise to thrive in the environment in Sochi. Multiple personal best performances and the acquisition of six medals, one gold, three silver, two bronze, led the British team to their greatest ever performance at a Paralympic Winter Games and a best ever finish position of 10th place on the medal table.
Yesterday (Sunday) all 15 athletes who represented Great Britain marched into the Fisht Stadium in Sochi to enjoy an awe-inspiring Closing Ceremony entitled Reaching the Impossible.
Briscoe added: “The Closing Ceremony was a spectacular end to a spectacular Games. Undoubtedly this was the best ever prepared ParalympicsGB winter team and performances on ice and snow demonstrated that.
“To achieve such success truly shows what’s possible when the right athletes, the right support and the right environment come together. It’s been an honour and a privilege to lead this talented team in Sochi”.
Reaching the Impossible was designed to show that dreams can be achieved and that with strength, passion and a change of perception anything is possible. The show featured a mix of light, music and dance to convey its message.
With a look to the future, the ceremony also included an introduction to PyeongChang in South Korea, the host city of the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, where Etherington could set the world of partially-sighted skiing alight once again.
The British team will arrive back at Heathrow at about 5pm today.