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King's Lynn Paralympian hit by Covid

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Nordic skier Steve Arnold's Paralympic debut is on a knife-edge after testing positive for Covid-19.

Steve, from Lynn, was forced to withdraw from Saturday's sprint biathlon after retuning the positive result before departing for China.

All athletes and Games participants must deliver two negative PCR tests in the 96 hours before flying to Beijing, the second of which must be undertaken at a Chinese state-approved laboratory.

MLNF Steve Arnold H4H Race Across America... (55272506)
MLNF Steve Arnold H4H Race Across America... (55272506)

Former Army sergeant Arnold, 42, was gearing up for a long-awaited Paralympic debut after missing out at PyeongChang 2018 and his options for the rest of the Games are now being considered.

Despite missing out on the sprint biathlon event in Zhangjiakou, Arnold is also due to compete in the sitting biathlon and cross-country skiing at the end of this week so could still fly to Beijing if he makes a full recovery.

Phil Smith, ParalympicsGB Chef de Mission for Beijing 2022, said: "I know this is bitterly disappointing news for Steve after all the hard work he has put in to make the team in such a demanding sport.

“The health and wellbeing of athletes is our top priority and we have put in place a comprehensive welfare plan to ensure Steve has all the support he needs as we continue to work with him to assess whether he is able to compete in events later in the competition schedule.”

Arnold prepared for the Games by claiming a top ten finish at the World Championships in Lillehammer and was determined to make his one shot on the big stage - he will be 46 when Milan-Cortina 2026 rolls around - count.

The former para cyclist suffered his injuries while serving in Afghanistan in 2011 before eventually taking up Nordic skiing - consisting of biathlon and cross-country skiing - in 2017.

He narrowly missed out on selection for the Games four years ago but was due to form part of a 24-strong ParalympicsGB team in Beijing - the biggest for a Winter Games since Lillehammer 1994.

After securing his selection, Arnold said: “It’s an incredible feeling.

“A massive amount of hard work has gone into this. I just missed out in 2018 – came into the sport too late and needed to do too much to get there, so I’ve had so much drive and determination to compete and get there this time.

“At the time, just missing out it was very disappointing. I found it tough for the first couple of months after but looking back, I probably wasn’t ready. Four years more of training was definitely what I needed.

“I’m not getting any younger, I’m 42-years-old and didn’t start this sport until I was 37. Most people are thinking about retiring then, rather than getting to their first Paralympic Games.

“I’ve put a lot into it, and it will probably be my one and only chance..”

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