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Page last updated at 15:56 GMT, Wednesday, 10 February 2010
Paralympic hope for Russell Docker
Russell Docker
The 2010 Paralympics is Russell's third Games

After an accident in 1995 aged 28, Russell Docker, from Blandford Forum, was told he would never walk again.

A skier since the age of 18, he was determined to regain his fitness, despite paralysis from the chest down.

His aim was to ski again, and using a mono ski, he is about to compete in his third Winter Paralympic Games.

The contest in Vancouver, Canada, will see Russell, 42, compete as part of Team GB in categories like the giant slalom, downhill and Super-G.

Colorado

But before the Games begin, Russell has two weeks of intensive training in Colorado, as preparation is crucial to success - but he is well used to adapting to training in different environments.

He said: "I have spent so much time travelling around over the past three or four years, it's more strange to be back home in Blandford than it is to be away training.

Russell Docker. Photo from russforgold.org
Russell Docker uses a special mono ski

"There's not much snow in Blandford, and I'm not close to any indoor snow domes there, so when I am there I concentrate on strength and fitness training in the gym, and do what I can do."

Russell uses a bespoke 'mono' ski, designed for him by a French manufacturer.

He said: "It's a different mono ski since my last paralympic games as new design [updates] break through all the time.

"It's improved my skiing on the technical side."

Speed

With his mono ski Russell can reach speeds of up to 70mph [112kph].

He said: "Don't be fooled by the word 'paralympic' - these are world class athletes."

On the international paralympic skiing scene, the competition is fierce, but there is no specific team to beat.

He said: "The Austrians have a strong team, as have the Germans, and the Americans.

"But [the British] might not have snow on the hills but we can still compete with the best of them."

Determination

Russell and trainer Simon Fastnedge
Russell works out in a gym in Poole, with trainer Simon Fastnedge

And a key part of Russell's attitude, who broke two vertebrae in his back after a five metre fall while on a skiing holiday, is his determination.

He said: "I've dedicated so much time to this. I don't work, not because of my disability but because I want to reach my goal."

The Winter Paralympic Games begin on 12 March, and Russell's first race is on 13 March.

It is his third Games, after Salt Lake City in 2002 and Turin in 2006, where he missed out on medals.

As he prepared to leave for Canada, he described himself as 'excited'.

He said: "It's funny, we went to the British Disabled Ski Team pre-Game celebrations last week, and it wasn't until I went there that I realised what we're doing. It's a bit of wake up call.

"You think about all the work you've put in over the last four years and you hope it pays off - I'm just as stoked as my first [Paralympics], maybe even more so, as I may be better prepared to fulfil my Paralympic dream."




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