HIGH Wycombe skier Ben Sneesby admits he’s still on cloud nine and will take some time to come back down to earth after competing in his maiden Paralympic Games.
The 19-year-old raced in the slalom and giant slalom in Sochi and was then whisked off to Number Ten to meet Prime Minister David Cameron on his triumphant return to England.
The dust is settling now the whirlwind is over, but Sneesby’s head is still spinning.
He said: “I got back a couple of nights ago and have tried to chill out but I’m still thinking about it all. I think it will take a bit of time to come back down and get back to a normal routine.
“For a year and a half it’s been really intense. Everything has been building up to getting to Sochi, then you’re told you’re going, then you’re there and you’re told what to wear, what to eat, where to be, everything in your day to day life.
“I got back on Monday and was told we were going to meet the Prime Minister.
“I’d forgotten we were going until the night before but then we went to Number Ten and he spoke to us and said well done and then we had tour. I never, ever thought I’d be going there.
“But now I’m back home and I haven’t been told to do anything. I’m just at home and it’s a bit strange. I’m at a bit of a loss.”
It’s no wonder Sneesby is taking time to adjust; it’s not everyday you put your home town on the map.
Sneesby was part of Britain’s most successful ever Paralympian squad in Russia, with six medals far out-stripping their pre-Games target of two.
He said: “I absolutely loved it, I loved every minute of it.
“It was different to anything else I’d ever been to and the opening ceremony was just stunning.
“Before I went I had a lot of people telling me to enjoy every minute of it and try to take it all in.
“I did try when I had the opportunity to just look around and I don’t think I got overwhelmed by it.
“My family all came out as well and I had the chance to sit down with them sometimes and watch some of the races and that was amazing.
“My events were right at the end so I had this big build-up and Team GB had already won medals so there really was a lot of attention.
“I just wanted to try and focus and do my best and I was over the moon with 11th in the slalom.
“I’ve watched it back and am really pleased with how it went.
“People said if I could get in the top 20 that would be really impressive so I don’t think I could have done any more.
“I crashed out in my second run in the Giant Slalom, but my aim was to break into the top 15 and I was 21st after my first run.
“I took a really attacking line with my second run and really went for it.
“I didn’t want to ski conservatively and then look back and think I could’ve given it a bit more.
“I’ve come away from races before thinking like that and it’s not a nice feeling. I’m not disappointed.”
Sneesby is now planning to get a summer job and unwind for a few months before going to university in Sheffield to study sports science this September.
The 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea are already at the back of his mind though.
He said: “Going to those Games has really motivated me to work hard and make sure I get to the next one in South Korea in 2018.
“Four years is a long time and I think I can really improve on these results.
“I don’t think it’s unrealistic to aim for a medal. That’s what the focus will be and I won’t be aiming for anything less. Next time I won’t go out there just for the experience.”