Jackie Narracott’s wild ride from bad concussion to unlikely Olympic silver

Through a skeleton career almost derailed by a lack of funding and a severe concussion, Jackie Narracott found a way to win Australia’s most unlikely Olympic medal.

Steven Bradbury became part of folklore with his speed-skating gold medal heroics while Chloe Esposito snatched a surprise modern pentathlon gold, but Narracott winning a silver medal in a sport where Australia has no facilities or training program tops the lot.

The 31-year-old, who has not been home to Queensland since 2019, scorched to second behind German Hannah Neise.

She made history, winning Australia’s first Olympic sliding medal, and it is the first time Australia has won four medals at a Winter Games.

Team chef de mission Geoff Lipshut admitted he thought he would never see an Australian sliding medal, with Narracott finishing 16th in PyeongChang.

“We actually tried to run a skeleton program from 2006 per 2014 and we actually didn’t get the results and that’s why Jackie is so remarkable,” Lipshut said on Sunday from Zhangjiakou.

“She’s found a way to do something that’s truly incredible.”

Narracott raced in her first World Cup in 2014 and said it had been a tough and expensive slog to arrive at her silver medal, estimating she contributed at least $100,000.

She is fortunately coached by her husband Brit Dom Parsons, who won a skeleton bronze at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, and who she now has bragging rights over.

“I’ve been very fortunate that the OWI [Australia’s Olympic Winter Institute] helped me out in the last four years and helped me get a partnership with Canada and fund quite a bit of my season.

“Before that I had plenty of maxed-out credit cards and the bank of mum and dad. Equipment has been the hardest bit, but having Dom by my side has been the best thing.”

She has also had to recover from a severe concussion that almost ended her career in 2018.

“I hit my head during my first run in Calgary after PyeongChang," lei disse. “After that I was slow to respond to friends, super emotional, then St Moritz, which is the best track in the world made me dizzy, which shouldn’t happen.

“I went back to Bath and was walking around town and felt drunk and ended up doing six months of concussion rehab. The most scared I’ve been was the first run back because the consequences were that if I got on the sled and I felt dizzy that was it.”

A turning point in her career came last month when she became Australia’s first ever sliding World Cup winner.

“I finally let go of the need to medal about a week and a half before St Moritz happened,” Narracott said.

“I realised that my career wasn’t going to be any worse or any better if I did finally get that medal and sure enough, once I let go of it it happened.

“There’s always that belief but to actually get concrete evidence was a bit of a game changer.”

She said her uncle, Paul Narracott, who was the first Australian to compete at both a Summer and Winter Olympic Games had paved the way for her success.

And she hoped she could the same for other girls who liked “going head first down a water slide”.

“I’d like it to not end with me, I’d desperately love some more girls to come into it," lei disse. “We need the girls to now try it and I’d love for there to be funding to get them on a sled.”

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