Owen Pick finds the ultimate motivation in snowboarding
Winter Paralympic Games calling for Barton Mills athlete
If snowboarding had not been on TV while lying in his hospital bed, Owen Pick would not be able to call himself a Paralympian.
Thankfully for the Barton Mills-based athlete – just a few years after watching the sport for the first time – he is now on the cusp of history.
Never before has a British snowboard team taken to the slopes at a Winter Paralympic Games but March will see all that change in PyeongChang with Pick at the forefront of the progression.
A former Army soldier, the 26-year-old’s life was turned upside down when he was blown up by an improvised explosive device just three months into his first tour of Afghanistan.
But after an 18-month battle to save his leg, Pick decided to have it amputated below the knee – determined not to let that hold him back in life.
It was while in hospital where the vision of snowboarding literally first came to him – and it is fair to say he has not looked back since.
“It feels amazing, to go from where I started five years ago when I was just snowboarding around, to now being selected on the team is a pretty cool feeling,” he said.
“Nothing like this was ever really on my mind if I’m honest, for me I always just loved snowboarding and I started doing a few competitions, from there it has got us to where we are today.
“It’s really cool, to be part of the first British snowboard team to go to a Winter Paralympics makes that even cooler, you’re representing your country but also being the first guys to be able to do something and that’s a big thing.
“I never really knew what it was until a charity called Blesma sent me on a trip to Colorado and I’ve never stopped snowboarding since.
“[On television] was the very first time I had seen the sport. Before that I was in school, then into army cadets, then the army, so it wasn’t until I got injured that I knew what snowboarding involved. Perhaps it’s lucky another sport wasn’t on TV.”
Taking to the sport like a duck to water, Pick very quickly found success, as well as enjoyment, from the sport – despite the lack of snow in Great Britain.
That came in the shape of silver at the World Championships, just 0.5 seconds off gold in the men’s banked slalom SB-LL2 category in Big White, Canada, last year.
Two more world cup medals quickly followed, but Pick knows that if gold is to come anywhere, South Korea is as good a place as any.
But make no mistake, this Cambridge snowboarder is going to the Far East for far more than the medals on offer.
“I don’t go to Pyeongchang thinking I’ve done it here, I’ll be able to do it there, because every race is different and you don’t know what’s going to happen,” he added.
“You can’t even begin to predict what will happen so I don’t, I’m just going to go there and board as much as I can before I get there to be in the best mental place that I can.
“I’m going to go and enjoy the experience. I don’t snowboard for the medals and the results, I snowboard because I love it and that’s what I want to do through my career.
“I’m only five years into it so I’m still in my beginning, a lot of these guys are 20 or so years into their careers but I just love every second of it.”
Sainsbury’s is a proud long-term supporter of the British Paralympic Association and a champion of inclusive sport for all. For more information on Sainsbury’s commitment to inclusive sport visit http://www.j-sainsbury.co.uk/