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Paralympics-Legal fight won, Hernandez and Huckaby enjoy success on the snow – Metro US

Paralympics-Legal fight won, Hernandez and Huckaby enjoy success on the snow

Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympic Games – Para Snowboard
Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympic Games – Para Snowboard

ZHANGJIAKOU, China (Reuters) – After a legal battle over whether they could be allowed to compete at the Paralympics, Cecile Hernandez and Brenna Huckaby found the competition smoother on Monday as they both won medals in the snowboard cross at the Winter Games.

Frenchwoman Hernandez took gold in the LL2 classification while American Huckaby secured bronze, with Canada’s Lisa DeJong denying them a famous one-two at the Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou.

Hernandez and Huckaby, long-time rivals on the snow, were forced to pursue legal action after the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) scrapped their category nearly three years ago over a lack of participants.

Huckaby, 26, was granted an interim injunction by a German court – the IPC is based in Bonn – in January that allowed her to compete in a different category reserved for athletes with a lower level of impairment, which essentially put her at a disadvantage.

“(The medal) adds to the visibility, so I can keep using my platform for inclusion, change and representation,” said Huckaby, who lost her right leg to bone cancer in 2010.

Before her amputation, Huckaby, who now has four Winter Paralympic medals, was a competitive gymnast who switched to snowboarding in 2013.

“I want to keep using my voice when I feel like it is needed and keep pushing for more inclusion and disability representation in the media,” she said.

Hernandez, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, faced an anxious wait until last week to find out whether she would be able to challenge for a fourth Olympic medal.

“It is unbelievable. I still do not realise what happened. To do everything I did to be here and then to earn this gold medal, it was a dream, and now that dream has come true,” said the 47-year-old after clinching her maiden Olympic gold.

Hernandez grabbed her helmet in disbelief after the final, trying to take in a result that seemed impossible till only a few days ago.

“(The finish) was just unbelievable. I wanted to share that feeling with my family. I forgot, my daughter and I made up a celebration, but then I forgot the celebration.”

In January, the IPC said it was “surprised and disappointed” that the court had ignored the Beijing 2022 qualification criteria, and bemoaned a lack of understanding of the classification system in Paralympic sport.

The governing body last year undertook an extensive three-year open consultation review of the athlete classification code in an attempt to make the system better.

(Reporting by Dhruv Munjal; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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