Weethalle alpine skier Josh Hanlon enhanced his Winter Paralympics chances with an impressive world championships debut in Norway.
Hanlon finished in eighth place in the Giant Slalom as he hit the slopes in Lillehammer, Norway, for the World Para Snow Sports Championships on Wednesday night.
The former footballer turned skier proved right at home on the world level with runs of 1:13.15 and 1:17.81, providing him with an overall score of 2:30.96.
The opening run put him in 12th position before the second catapulted him into eighth spot, of 16 competitors.
Even the opening run was enough to impress commentators.
"Josh Hanlon is going to make a World Championship debut clean run and he's just outside the top 10 as well. 1.13.15, that's pretty good!" the commentator remarked.
"And it's certainly something to build on."
Hanlon's overall time was 16.54 seconds off gold medalist, Norway's Jesper Pederson, but less than 10 seconds off a medal.
It was enough to impress Kate McLoughlin, the general manager sport of Paralympics Australia and Chef de Mission for the 2022 Australian Paralympic Team.
"Awesome to see Beijing 2022 hopeful, Josh Hanlon in great form at his first World Championships in the Giant Slalom," McLoughlin tweeted.
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The performance continues a remarkable rise for the 24-year-old, who first tried sit-skiing in the winter of 2019. That was only 12 months after he had his lower legs and right hand amputed following a life-threatening injury.
Snow Australia high performance program manager Ben Wordsworth told The Daily Advertiser only last week that Hanlon was in their plans for the Beijing Paralympics in March.
Hanlon left for Europe in November with the Australian team hoping to qualify for the Paralympics.
"He is travelling with the high performance team at the moment. He's immersed in that program in the daily training environment and we think that he's going to qualify for Beijing and go with the rest of the team," Wordsworth said.
Hanlon is not finished at the championships and still has the Slalom to compete in on January 21.
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