Belfast Telegraph

Tragic loss of her dad drove Kelly Gallagher to win gold

By Linda Stewart

Britain's only Winter Paralympics gold medallist, Co Down's Kelly Gallagher, has spoken of how the tragic loss of her father drove her to return to competition after she considered giving up.

The visually impaired Bangor skier said she was initially inspired to take up the sport as a latecomer by her dad Patrick, who had become a commercial pilot at the age of 36.

With limited funding, Kelly had to combine her training with a day job as a civil servant and four years ago made her Paralympic debut in Vancouver, finishing fourth and sixth in two disciplines.

The same year her father was diagnosed with cancer in his left eye. He had the eye removed and managed to regain his licences and return to the air.

Around the same time, Kelly suffered a bad injury, shaking her confidence so badly that she came home and contemplated giving up.

But it meant she was able to be with her father in his final months after an MRI scan revealed his cancer had returned – and his death left her with a choice.

"I was either going to throw everything I had at my racing or I was going to leave. And it didn't feel right to leave," she said.

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