SHE may not have brought home a medal, but Griffith’s Joany Badenhorst is a winner just the same.
The 19-year-old is still on a high after returning from the Sochi Winter Paralympic Games, where she was set to debut in the women’s snowboard cross.
She was forced to pull out at the last minute when she dislocated her knee in the warm-up for her only race.
While she admits she would have loved to have raced, she has no regrets and is already planning to compete in South Korea in 2018.
“Of course I wanted to compete but I’m not disappointed. It was such an amazing experience to be part of,” she said.
“It was a lot of hard work but to be part of the atmosphere in Sochi was incredible. There was real camaraderie. It was nothing like I’d ever experienced before. The entire experience really opened my eyes. I was so inspired to see these fearless people. It just made me think I can do more.”
The outgoing teen lost her leg in a farm accident in South Africa a month before her 10th birthday, but it has never slowed her down.
The unfortunate injury in Sochi has done nothing to dampen her spirits or determination.
“On the day of the accident I woke up bright and early. I wasn’t that nervous because I felt so ready,” she said.
“I wanted to show what I’d accomplished in the last 12 months.
“They opened up the course so we could do a run and I crashed in exactly the same spot I had the day before. I was in mid air and I felt my knee go. I landed on my bum and just sat there, I couldn’t identify where the pain was coming from but I knew I was out.
“I’m just very, very thankful it wasn’t worse.”
After a short break in Griffith to catch up with family and friends she will head to Sydney next Monday to start an architecture course at the University of NSW.
It means she will now juggle university studies and training for South Korea in 2018.
“I’m so excited to be starting uni. I hate standing still,” she said.
“I think keeping busy is the best thing for body, mind and soul.
“Right now snowboarding is my passion. But I’d like to finish with a degree and I think architecture is something I’d be good at.”
Joany will be a guest speaker tonight at the Griffith Regional Theatre, when a belated International Women’s Day celebration is held.