PyeongChang 2018: Delegations acclimatise ahead of Games
Chef de Missions Penny Briscoe and Esther Vergeer give insight into teams' preparations 04 Mar 2018
Penny Briscoe (L) and Esther Vergeer are the Chef de Missions for Great Britain and Netherlands at PyeongChang 2018
Acclimatisation is going well. Athletes are resting, we are making sure the rooms are fine, checking out the Village, coaches are checking the venues. We are very comfortable here.”
Para athletes are only just arriving at the Paralympic Village in PyeongChang while trying to acclimatise to the conditions and the time zone as they enter into the final stages of preparation ahead of the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.
Chefs de Mission from the different delegations are working hard to make sure all athletes, coaches and officials feel comfortable and ready to give their best when competition gets underway.
Esther Vergeer, considered by many as the best wheelchair tennis player in history, will lead the Dutch team as Chef de Mission for the first time at PyeongChang 2018.
As a seven-time Paralympic champion, Vergeer has vast experience at Summer Games, but “not in winter sports. It is weird but exciting to be in a winter sports environment and be surrounded by snow all the time.
“I was selected as Chef de Mission last September so had little time to make the transition to winter sports. But it is sports and I know what athletes want and need.
“Nine Dutch athletes came, our biggest delegation ever at a Winter Paralympics. We are proud of that. Acclimatisation is going well. Athletes are resting, we are making sure the rooms are fine, checking out the Village, coaches are checking the venues. We are very comfortable here.”
As a former athlete herself, there are many tips Vergeer can pass into the younger athletes.
“I had some conversations with them over the last months. I have experience with competing under pressure and what to do in those situations at a Paralympics, so I can be of help for the athletes.”
Great Britain Chef de Mission Penny Briscoe has also been working with British athletes to support them through the acclimatisation process.
“If you take door to door travel, for most of the guys coming from the UK is 20 to 22 hours. We have to be really careful with travel fatigue,” she said.
“So there is acclimatisation, trying to deal with nine time zones coming here is pretty brutal. Obviously the first few days we had to dig ourselves in the Village. We look to prepare an optimum environment, make them feel home from home, not too comfortable but familiar.
“We create team support, performance space and the right atmosphere for the team. We really try to make a unify team to ensure every athlete has the opportunity to deliver the best performance when it matters most.
“Luckily most of the team are on the ground early or they have been through pre-Games preparation camps. Timing the environment is really important to make sure the athletes are ready.”
A total of 17 British athletes including three guides will compete across five of the six Paralympic sports, including a Para Nordic skier again after 20 years. “The Paralympics GB is a combination of debutants and experienced athletes. We have our first Nordic skier in 20 years,” said Briscoe.
“We also got three snowboard guys for the first time ever. Representation for us in five of six sports is really important. And we look to continuing to build Paralympics GB as a winter nation going forward and looking into Beijing 2022.”
Tickets for PyeongChang 2018 can be purchased here.