Winter Olympics 2014: Snowboarded Zoe Gillings claims nothing can faze her after injury troubles in Vancouver and Turin
Gillings saw her previous Winter Olympic campaigns blighted by injury but feels she hasn't yet reached her best
Saturday 15 February 2014
Given the injury heartache which has accompanied her previous two Winter Games, you could be forgiven for thinking Isle of Man snowboarder Zoe Gillings would prefer to see the back of the Olympic rings.
Gillings shattered eight bones in her left foot prior to her first Games in Turin and defied doctors' predictions that she would never race again by limping to a highly creditable 15th place.
Then four years later in Vancouver, Gillings' quest for a medal came to an end when she tore a knee ligament as she battled to force her way through from her ski-cross semi-final.
Gillings also had to contend with the bankruptcy of her then governing body Snowsport GB immediately before Vancouver, which left her facing a financial shortfall, although she has subsequently been funded through this Olympic year for UK Sport.
But at the age of 28, the former World Cup medallist is convinced she is in such shape as she prepares to begin her competition on Sunday that she already has one eye on holding on for Pyeongchang in 2018.
Gillings said: "If you look at the gold medallists from the last two Olympics they were mostly in their 30s, and I'm 28 now. Despite everything that's happened, I still feel like a teenager and I've definitely got another Games left in me.
"With each one I seem to get more relaxed. In my first Olympics I didn't really know what to expect, and obviously I was better prepared for Vancouver. Now as I go into the Games in Sochi nothing is fazing me at all."
Gillings does not cut a figure of frustration, despite the setbacks which have greatly diminished her chances of maintaining a top-level snowboarding career and holding out for an Olympic medal.
In a sport in which all the competitors career together down the same steep course with jumps, crashes are not uncommon and Gillings clearly believes if she sticks around long enough her Olympic luck is due to even out.
She added: "My injuries have just made me more determined to succeed. When doctors told me I would be able to go to Turin, it just convinced me that I was going to be there, no question.
"And the injury in Vancouver was down to the fact that I was third in my heat and I just decided to risk everything and go for it. It didn't pay off and I injured myself in the process but I'm glad I went for it."
Gillings will have extra motivation to succeed in Sochi after the achievement of fellow snowboarder Jenny Jones, who became Great Britain's first Olympic medallist on snow when she took bronze on the second day of competition.
Gillings added: "I remember having conversations with Jenny years ago before Vancouver and she told me how much she wanted to compete in the Olympics.
"Obviously slopestyle wasn't an Olympic discipline then and I was really happy for her when it got in. It's brilliant that she got back and it is certainly an inspiration to see her win a medal when she is competing against teenagers."
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