sport

Etherington to carry GB flag

Four-time Winter Paralympic medallist Jade Etherington has been named as Great Britain's flag bearer for Sunday's closing ceremony in Sochi.

However, the visually-impaired skier and her guide Caroline Powell pulled out of their final event of the Games, the giant slalom.

Etherington was ill on Saturday night and still felt unwell on Sunday morning, leading herself, Powell and ParalympicsGB chief medical officer Dr Stuart Miller to make the joint decision to withdraw.

A decision on her involvement in the ceremony at the Fisht Stadium will be made later on Sunday.

Etherington and Powell became the first Britons to win four medals at one Winter Paralympics this week, taking silver in the downhill, slalom and super combined and bronze in the super-G. The team have taken six overall.

Team-mates Kelly Gallagher and Charlotte Evans have won the only gold, though, to make them Britain's first and only Winter Paralympic champions.

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."

A senior management team of ParalympicsGB staff, headed by chef de mission Penny Briscoe, chose Etherington as flag bearer.

Briscoe said: "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."

With Etherington and Powell absent from the slopes, Gallagher and Evans saw their hopes of adding to their super-G title ended by yet another crash.

The pair have now failed to finish three of their five events,

On this occasion Gallagher's ski came off on their first run down a course Evans described as "bumpy".

Evans said: "We have definitely won the award for the most bad luck. It's hard to swallow right now."

Gallagher added: "All the time we're told, 'You're fighters, you've got it, you've just got to keep on fighting the whole way down the course'. Well I don't know how to fight down a course with one ski on.

"We came from the World Championships (in La Molina in 2013) getting four medals out of five events (but no golds). It was easier to swallow then because I had a DNF (did not finish) in one race. It's harder to take a DNF in three events, especially when you know how good form you're in.

"We've been great at GS all season, winning nearly every race we've been in.

"The hope that you have is that what you've achieved is enough, in a month's time we don't turn round and are still smarting about how this feels, because we have won something.

"We didn't come to the Games for just one event, we came to the Games with a chance of five gold medals and we chased after every single one of those medals. We weren't lucky to win our gold medal, we worked for it, we had to go out and chase it the whole way down."

"It's not like I had a disappointing run and could go up there and redeem myself. I had to sit around in the afternoon and watch some other girls take what I was chasing. We were just sidelined and we've had that for three days now and it's hard to pick yourself up from it when that's all you've been working for."