Paralympic Winter Games
04 - 13 March

Teenage sensation Johannes Aigner achieves Paralympic glory on Games debut

Austrian 16-year-old upsets defending champion Mac Marcoux in the men's downhill vision impaired 05 Mar 2022
Johannes Aigner of Team Austria and his guide Matteo Fleischmann react after crossing the finish line
Johannes Aigner of Team Austria and his guide Matteo Fleischmann embrace after crossing the finish line
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Teenage star Johannes Aigner made a splash on his Winter Paralympic debut by upsetting defending champion Mac Marcoux to take Beijing 2022 downhill gold on Saturday (5 March) at the Yangqing National Alpine Skiing Centre.

Austria's 16-year-old, guided by Matteo Fleischmann, ended first after clocking a time of 1:13.45 in the men's vision impaired.

Aigner was ecstatic. He said: "The feeling is indescribable. It was my first downhill race and I am very happy. Unbelievable."

Fleischmann added: “We have never raced downhill before, just a few training days. I don’t think we realise what we have done at the moment.”

Canadian Marcoux and guide Tristan Rodgers (1:13.81) came in second, while Frenchman Hyacinthe Deleplace, guided by Valentin Giraud-Moine (1:14.10) rounded up the podium.

The tough-looking start list also included Paralympic champions Jakub Krako of Slovakia and Giacomo Bertagnolli of Italy.

Four countries land first gold at Beijing 2022

Mollie Jepsen took the women's standing title, her second Winter Paralympic gold, with a time of 1:21.75, slightly ahead of Chinese Mengqiu Zhang (1:21.85) who claimed second.

The Canadian said: "It means so much. The last two years have been so crazy, so many ups and downs.

"I just wanted to come out and have fun, do it with my teammates and I’m really glad they were all here, happy and safe. It means so much.

"We put so much work into this and there are so many people I’d love to thank but the list would probably go on for an hour if I did.”

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Japan sealed their first Beijing 2022 gold medal courtesy of Momoka Muraoka in the women's sitting.

“I don’t have much experience with downhill races, so that is kind of why four years ago I didn’t really intend to get a gold medal, but a medal," said Muraoka, who had taken silver in this event at PyeongChang 2018.

"This time, I wanted to get a gold medal so much. I'm happy I got the gold medal.”

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Arthur Bauchet claimed France's first gold medal in the men's standing. Th 21-year-old, who had won four silvers at PyeongChang 2018, said: "It feels magical. It’s the only word to describe what I am feeling right now. It’s incredible to win here.

"I have been waiting for this victory for four years, through all the preparation, and it is just perfect. It is crazy.

"My speciality is the technical events but we tried to do a lot in the speed event.

"I wasn’t expecting to win the gold in the downhill, but to win the gold in my first race at these Paralympic (Winter) Games is just crazy."

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New Zealand also had a reason to celebrate thanks to 38-year-old Corey Peters, who took men's sitting gold, the first Winter Paralympic title in his career.

“It’s a good way to potentially finish off my last Paralympic Games. It’s unlikely I’ll go another four years so my goal was to come in and go for that gold medal. And it happened today.

"I put down probably the run of my life, and it showed on the scoreboard.”

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Henrieta Farkasova took the first gold medal of the Paralympic Winter Games in the women's vision impaired.