The Beijing WInter Games will be the perfect platform for these youngsters to herald their arrival into the big league 27 Feb 2022
KEEP A CLOSE WATCH ON: Jesse Keefe of USA competes in the men's Standing Giant Slalom race during the World Para Snow Sports Championships at Lillehammer, Norway.
ⒸAlex Livesey/Getty Images
If experience and skills play a big role in success, youth is the elixir that drives upcoming athletes to future greatness. The Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing will be no different.
As the world's best Para athletes gather in Beijing for the 13th Paralympic Winter Games, the focus will be on some young rising stars who are expected to shine bright and make a mark for themselves. Most of these stars are first-timers and therefore are being watched by excitement as some of them are expected to drive their respective sports in the future.
Here are five young Para athletes to look out for at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games:
JESSE KEEFE (ALPINE SKIING, USA)
At 17, Jesse Keefe is the youngest athlete on the US team.
Having grown up in a passionate skiing family and an active ski town, Keefe found himself in skis at just two years of age. At seven, Keefe, who was born without an ankle bone in his right leg and had his foot amputated at 11 months, joined the Sun Valley Ski Education race team. Keefe won his first race at just three years (at his local Kindercup) and his most memorable sporting moment was winning the 2021 US National Giant Slalom, Slalom and placing 3rd in the Super-G.
KATLYN MADDRY (ALPINE SKIING, USA)
It will be a homecoming of sorts for the soon-to-be 20-years skier. Born in China, Maddry grew up in Wasilla, Alaska. She was diagnosed with fibular hemimelia at birth, which resulted in scoliosis. That led to her right leg being amputated when she was eight. Maddry will be making her debut at the Beijing 2022. Her best result was a fourth-place finish in dual-banked Slalom at this year’s World Championships.
NEIL SIMPSON (ALPINE SKIING, GREAT BRITAIN)
Games debutant Neil Simpson, 20, has skied since the age of four and is guided by elder brother Andrew. The Scottish siblings head to China buoyed by a silver medal in the Super Combined at the recent World Championships. Visually-impaired Simpson – who has Nystagmus, which causes involuntary eye movements – broke through in 2020, winning Slalom gold and Giant Slalom bronze at the Para Alpine World Cup. He went on to be shortlisted for the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year.
LINGXIN HUANG (CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING, CHINA)
The 19-year-old will hope to make his mark in Cross-Country Skiing on his debut in Beijing 2022. The young boy from Yunnan Province has practiced the sport for the last three years at the ski track in Baiyin, which he feels is very similar to the venue of the Beijing Paralympic Winter Games. "I hope I shall make great efforts to improve my performance at Beijing 2022," Huang told the Chinese media recently, adding that he dreamed of achieving a good result in Beijing.
KYLE TAULMAN (SITTING-SKIING, USA)
Beijing will be Kyle Taulman’s first Paralympic Games. After a high-risk neuroblastoma that wrapped around his spinal cord left him paralysed at age of two, the Freeport, Illinois, native took up Ski Racing after his family relocated to Colorado. Recently Taulman finished 12th in Super-G at the final World cup event in Sweden. Taulman also enjoys Wheelchair Tennis and competed at the 2021 collegiate championships.