200 days to go: Meenagh ready to make Paralympic dream come true at PyeongChang 2018


200 days to go: Meenagh ready to make Paralympic dream come true at PyeongChang 2018

Four years ago Scott Meenagh was a spectator standing behind a fence and watching on as the best athletes from around the world were welcomed to the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games.

At the time Meenagh was a part of the British Rowing setup but he made a promise to himself that he would be on the other side of the fence when the Games came around again.

While in Russia, Meenagh also fell in love with Paralympic Nordic Skiing and upon his return started to investigate how feasible a switch in sports would be.

Throughout the rest of 2014 and 2015 the 27-year-old would take every break from rowing as an opportunity to borrow a cross-country ski rig and do some training and, in June 2016, made the decision to switch permanently.

Since then he has been trying to make good on his promise to be part of ParalympicsGB for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Paralympic Games and, with 200 days to go until the start of competition, he is right on course.

“Sochi was the defining moment in my sporting life. It was the opportunity that really showed me what it took to be an elite athlete,” said Meenagh.

“It gave me the education and experience that is crucial to athletes but also the most important bit was that it gave me the hunger.

“At the welcome ceremony for the athletes I remember standing on one side of the fence as a spectator watching the athletes come, the flag being raised and the national anthem being played.

“It was incredible and I’m getting goose bumps just thinking about it now and I stated there and then that next time around I wanted to be on the other side of the fence.

“That’s when the seed was planted for me and I’ve been working towards that goal for a while now.”

200 days to go: Meenagh ready to make Paralympic dream come true at PyeongChang 2018

Leaving British Rowing was not an easy choice for Meenagh and it’s been a steep learning curve for the Scot with ParalympicsGB not having had a representative in Nording Skiing since Terry Ahrens and Peter Young at Nagano 1998.

But he says the education he received from his former sport was invaluable and he is looking forward to laying the foundations for a generation to come.

“I simply wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for the rowing programme because Nordic is a very small and new emerging concept in the UK,” he added.

“The knowledge and experience I was given by being part of one of the most polished and professional well-run sports in the UK meant I had a lot of experience, discipline and attention to detail.

“I think initially it was a little bit daunting to make the switch, almost like dropping off a cliff in many ways because I was coming from a programme that was telling you where to be, what to do, how far to train.

“We were very spoiled at rowing and you lose a lot of the structure and the routine. However, you have got an opportunity to essentially create a new structure, your own structure and an influence in creating a culture in the new sport. 

“So what can sometimes be challenging in the new sport is also very exciting because you are writing the book and not pulling upon doing what others have done you are trying to create a culture and something new.”

200 days to go: Meenagh ready to make Paralympic dream come true at PyeongChang 2018

While the chance to write the manual on Nordic Skiing in the UK is appealing, for now Meenagh says he is concentrating on the task at hand and making sure he is on the athlete’s side of the fence when competition begins in 200 days time.

“200 days to go makes it a little bit more real for me and it definitely ignites a bit of a fire in your belly and your head does sway towards the selection side of things and you are making sure that you are doing everything right every day to make sure you are on that team.

“But in skiing terms my eyes are very much fixed on December and the first World Cup because it’s that competition where I will be putting down a performance which will secure me selection for the team.

“I do get excited by the prospect of laying the foundations but I’m not just in it to blaze the trail I’m in it to win it.

“I’m getting my head down and working hard and making sure I’m turning over all the stones so that come next year GB are on the stage to be noticed.”