Winter Paralympics: Mick Brennan back in action after emotional-fuelled week

Mick Brennan. Photo: Paul Sanwell / OP Photographic
Mick Brennan. Photo: Paul Sanwell / OP Photographic

Mick Brennan remains in the hunt for a Winter Paralympics medal after an emotion-fuelled first week in Sochi.

The 34-year-old ex-serviceman, orginally from Bircotes, finished a very respectable tenth on his Paralympics debut in the Super-G event on Sunday.

He then negotiated a treacherous slalom course to finish ninth in Tuesday’s first half of the Super Combined competition, qualifying for tomorrow’s Super-G climax.

Brennan is also still scheduled to compete in the sit-skiing slalom and giant slalom before returning to England.

An emotional rollercoaster of a week for the former solider has been in-keeping with an extraordinary build-up to his first ever Games.

Brennan pulled out of Saturday’s downhill event for fear of his safety, as the conditions in Sochi came in for some stinging criticism from athletes.

He then paid a tearful tribute to his family after successfully completing a brutal Super-G course on Sunday.

Crossing the finish line represented a huge personal success after a four-year build-up to the Paralympics which included a divorce, a year out of the sport for mental health reasons and a nine-month absence with a broken sternum which threatened to rule him out of contention.

“It means a lot because I have had a rough year. It was touch and go whether I would make it here,” said Brennan, following last weekend’s debut.

“My form coming into the holding camp had been absolutely diabolical and I was very depressed, but it shows the character of myself to keep chipping away and not give in.

“I would like to thank [my family] for supporting me. They have never once moaned at me. Without their support I wouldn’t be here.”

After being injured while on military duty in Iraq in November 2004, Brennan started to learn adaptive skiing in November 2008 as part of his rehabilitation programme at Headley Court.

He joined the Combined Services Disabled Ski Team (CSDST) and was selected for the British Disabled Ski Team Development Squad, making his international debut for GB in 2010.

He finished ninth in the Super Combined at the 2013 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in Spain but broke his sternum warming up for the giant slalom the next day.

After almost six months out, he returned to action in New Zealand and broke his wrist, leaving him short of competitive action ahead of the Sochi Games.

Brennan’s performance in Sunday’s Super-G left Tony McAllister, head coach of the Great Britain alpine skiing team, in tears.

“He’s a real fighter; I’ve never met a tougher guy in my life,” he said.

On Tuesday he was one of just 12 skiers - out of 26 - to complete the slalom course.