Ex-serviceman Matt Richardson makes Para-skeleton history

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter
Matthew Richardson
Ex-serviceman Matt Richardson won the first-ever Para-skeleton World Cup event, which was held in Park City, USA on 16 November 2014.

Ex-serviceman Matt Richardson claimed a historic gold in the first-ever Para-skeleton World Cup event in Park City, USA.

Richardson, 28, is a former Lance Bombardier in the British Army, who was struck by a landmine whilst on patrol in Afghanistan in 2008.

Both of his feet were shattered by the blast and he was introduced to Para-skeleton through 'Help for Heroes'.external-link

"To win the race was an amazing feeling," Richardson told BBC Sport.

He was one of six athletes competing in the inaugural event, posting a combined time of 1:49.40, which was 0.68 seconds ahead of USA's Eric Eierdam.

About 'Help for Heroes' sports recovery:
The programme was launched in 2008 to aid the recovery of men and women injured in active service
In 2013 more than 1,800 people were helped to take part in 50 different sports
Ex-servicemen and Help 4 Heroes graduate Mick Brennan competed for Great Britain at the Winter Paralympics in Sochi.

The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation [FIBT] only approved the World Cup seriesexternal-link earlier this month.

However, it is seen as a key step in the sport's bid to be accepted into future Winter Paralympic Games.

At present there are no sliding sports scheduled to be involved in the 2018 Pyeongchang Paralympic programme in South Korea, meaning the 2022 Games are the most realistic target.

"I think this World Cup is huge and there's so much excitement amongst the athletes who all want to be able to compete in Para-skeleton or Para-bobsleigh at a Paralympics," said Richardson.

Richardson will compete in the second World Cup event in Calgary, Canada from November 17 to 22 and be joined by fellow ex-serviceman Corie Mapp, who is due to take part in the Para-bobsleigh event.

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