Macclesfield's Paralympic skiing hero Menna Fitzpatrick admits 'I still get nervous'

Macclesfield's Menna Fitzpatrick - Britain's most decorated Winter Paralympian - admits she still gets nervous before a race.

The visually impaired skier won four medals at the 2018 Winter Paralympics, including a gold in the slalom, two silvers and a bronze.

And Menna has so far won another two medals in Bejing 2022, a silver in the women's Super-G vision-impaired class with guide Gary Smith, and the super combined bronze, alongside brothers Neil and Andrew Simpson.

But despite all that experience, she says she still gets butterflies at the top of the slope.

Although, this fearsome competitor is quick to point out that, despite having just 3% vision, she's never been afraid to hurtle down a mountain, having first taken up the sport as a five-year-old.

"Skiing at that age, you don't have any fear anyway. You just charge!" she says.

"I suppose I couldn't see anything coming up so I couldn't really be afraid of how steep or bumpy it was going to be. And that hasn't gone away yet.

"I do sometimes get a bit nervous before a race and in the start gate.

"But who wouldn't? You've just got to put those nerves to one side and concentrate on the race."

  • Menna explains what she does to combat nerves before a race

Menna remains unstoppable on the snow despite breaking her leg in a race in 2020, which left her on crutches for most of the first lockdown.

She prides herself on her determination, which she says grew from how her parents handled her impairment from a young age.

"When I was a kid, they never let me give up on things just because they were hard," she recalls.

"Especially when I ran into things and fell over and hurt myself, they'd just say, 'Come on, brush it off and you'll be fine.'

"And I think that determination has come through into skiing and I don't really want to give up. On anything!"

  • Menna reveals she nearly became a para-cyclist instead of a skier

The skiing world could easily have been robbed of their para-alpine star.

Menna tried out for the British para-cycling team as a teenager but couldn't find the same buzz on the bike.

The buzz that's brought her a mountain of medals and royal recognition for her skill on skis, with an MBE and even a video call from the Earl and Countess of Wessex to wish her good luck ahead of the Beijing Winter Paralympics.

And all this by the age of 23.

Menna Fitzpatrick says she feels the weight of expectation on her shoulders but is driven to keep the medals coming.