Sochi 2014: GB name Winter Paralympic ski team

Kelly Gallagher

Visually impaired duo Kelly Gallagher and Jade Etherington head a seven-strong Great Britain skiing team for the Winter Paralympics in Sochi.

The pair are tipped for major honours in Russia after winning medals at World Cup and Europa Cup events this season.

Also included is retired serviceman Mick Brennan, who lost both legs in a suicide bomb attack in Iraq in 2004.

Anna Turney and teenagers Ben Sneesby, Millie Knight and James Whitley complete the squad.

The Winter Paralympics run from 7-16 March.

Knight, who is also visually impaired and will race against Gallagher and Etherington, will be Britain's youngest-ever winter Paralympian, having just turned 15.

Also heading for Sochi is the wheelchair curling team of Aileen Neilson, Tom Killin, Rob McPherson and Gregor Ewan, with Angie Malone as reserve.

Britain, who have never won a Paralympic gold medal, have been given a target of between two and five medals at the Games.

Gallagher, who was the first person from Northern Ireland to compete in the Winter Paralympics, finished sixth in the slalom and fourth in the giant slalom with previous guide Claire Robb in 2010.

Since teaming up with current guide Charlotte Evans in 2011, the pair have enjoyed plenty of success.

They won silver and bronze at the 2011 World Championships before claiming two silvers and two bronzes at the 2013 World Championships in Spain and slalom gold at last year's World Cup finals in Sochi.

Gallagher, 28, told BBC Sport that standing on the podium in Sochi would be "a dream come true".

Etherington, 21, won world Super-G bronze last year with guide John Clarke but this season has formed a solid partnership with guide Caroline Powell.

They have won medals at the European Cup before claiming two silvers and a bronze at the World Cup event in Copper Mountain last weekend.

Knight, who only joined the team in 2012, will be guided by Rachael Ferrier in her first major international competition.

Turney, Brennan and Sneesby will all compete in the sit-ski events.

Turney, whose best finish at the 2010 Games in Vancouver was sixth, is aiming to better that this time around.

"I've put a huge amount of hard work into my performance in the four years since Vancouver," she said. "I feel a much stronger athlete now."

Brennan lost both legs after surviving a suicide bomb attack while serving in Iraq in 2004 and took up skiing through the Help for Heroes scheme.

Sneesby, 19, has been skiing with the BDST Youth Development squad since he was talent spotted at the age of 13.

Whitley, 16, will make his Games debut in the standing category and is currently ranked second in the world at under-18 level.

ParalympicsGB chef de mission Penny Briscoe believes the GB squad travelling to Sochi will be the best prepared athletes for a Winter Games.

"We know that the margins will be small and that we cannot underestimate how others will perform on the day," she said.

"What is not in doubt, however, is the skill, determination and commitment of our athletes, who have shown that they can thrive under pressure and compete up there against the world's best."

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