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Aussie gold medallist to miss Winter Olympics

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A disappointed Torah Bright will watch from afar as Australia undertakes its most promising Winter Olympics campaign at the PyeongChang Games.

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The gold and silver medallist withdrew her name from selection before the Australian Olympic Committee’s announcement today of the 45-member team to compete in South Korea from February 9.

A champion of the halfpipe at Vancouver 2010 and poster girl for Australian snow sports for a decade, Bright started her qualification campaign late and achieved only moderate success as she battled a wrist injury.

She had rarely competed since winning silver in Sochi four years ago.

“Cheering from the sidelines. Sadly after sustaining a few injuries I will not be able to compete at the upcoming Olympics,” Bright said on Twitter today.

“Life is full of little setbacks but I’m excited about what lies ahead. Continuing to push the boundaries with snowboarding and inspiring projects.”

Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman admitted Bright’s absence would be felt despite confidence in a team which has won 54 individual World Cup between them in the past 18 months.

“Torah obviously wanted to go to the Games and it’s also a disappointment to us,” Chesterman told AAP.

“Torah Bright’s one of Australia’s Winter Olympic legends. She’s our most successful athlete, along with Dale Begg-Smith, having won a gold and silver medal.

“We would have loved to have Torah on the team. She would have brought an element of excitement and experience.”

The country’s bid to win a medal at a sixth straight Winter Games will be led by world champions Britt Cox (moguls) and Scotty James (snowboard halfpipe), alongside world No.1 in snowboard cross Alex Pullin and Sochi aerials medallists Lydia Lassila and David Morris.

Cox and James have continued their strong form from last season into 2017-18, with a gold and silver medal respectively in recent World Cup events.

“With respect to the two previous teams that I have been selected on, I think that this team promises so much not only in PyeongChang, but into the future,” James said.

“We have many athletes doing really amazing things, who are competitive on the world stage almost every week of the season and the standard of their preparation just gets better.”

Lassila, one of the 17 team members to have reached the podium during this winter season with gold and silver at a World Cup event last weekend, has been confirmed for her fifth games.

Snowboarders Belle Brockhoff (cross) and Jessica Rich (slopestyle) and freeskier Russ Henshaw have been selected but their participation is subject to medical clearance.

Emily Arthur and Holly Crawford, who’s set to compete at her fourth Games, have claimed the two spots in the women’s halfpipe allocated to Australia ahead of Bright.

Sochi Olympian Brockhoff has vowed to ride her heart out despite recently returning to the slopes after surgery for a ruptured ACL.

Chesterman praised the 25-year-old’s determination after she suffered the injury in a training crash late last year having spent much of the previous 12 months out with a knee injury.

“It’s obviously not the preparation that Belle would have wanted,” he said.

“Let’s try and get her to the Games and then see how she goes, but I think she’s an athlete who is a great role model for others in that she has a fantastic work ethic and has a great desire to be part of the Australian team.”

– AAP

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