Tyler Harding admitted a mixture of pride and disappointment in his Winter Olympic debut.
After just missing out on qualification for Sochi 2014, Harding badly damaged his anterior cruciate ligament, causing him to spend a year away from the sport.
And history seemed to be repeating itself, as the 21-year-old from Sowerby Bridge nursed his way through two qualifying runs in the men’s freestyle skiing slopestyle on Sunday.
“I’m happy to be at the Olympics and in one piece, especially with my very dodgy knee,” he said, after finishing 29th in qualifying.
“I could only do two hours of practice, so that wasn’t really the best of me and that’s disappointing - especially as I know everyone would have been watching back home.
“I’m annoyed that I couldn’t put the sort of run down that I know I can do. However, just being part of this, watching this guys, it shows what our sport is all about. Compared to the last Olympics the level is 100 times better.
“This has taken a lot of effort and time to make these Games and I’ll be able to say I’m an Olympian forever now, no-one is taking this off me. However, next time I want to be challenging, it’s been a frustrating time but it’s has been very inspiring.”
Harding watched as teammate James Woods, a multiple world and X-Games medallist, finished just outside the medals in fourth and was also inspired by seeing Izzy Atkin claim Britain’s first-ever skiing medal with a bronze in the women’s slopestyle.
“It’s a massive boost for our team, a bronze medal and a fourth place, that shows that British skiing is right up there with the best in the world,” said Harding.
“Hopefully it will mean people keep investing in us and giving us the training and coaching we need to succeed. Our team is a young one, we’re going to learn so many lessons in the next four years and come the next Olympics, we will be firing.”
Woods also had praise for Harding’s commitment in making the team.
“I know what it’s like to battle injuries, it’s really hard,” he said. “Tyler has kept working hard and he’s made some big sacrifices to be here, he’s only going to get better and better.”
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