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11 months on from near-death experience, Canadian hails Winter Olympics 'miracle'

The country’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has hailed Mark McMorris’s “tenacity”.

Mark McMorris of Canada poses with his bronze medal from the Men's Slopestyle event.
Mark McMorris of Canada poses with his bronze medal from the Men's Slopestyle event.

MARK MCMORRIS SAID on Monday that his bronze medal was “a miracle” after the inspirational Canadian climbed onto the Olympic podium just 11 months on from a near-fatal snowboarding accident.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hailed McMorris’s “tenacity” and “courage” as the 24-year-old drew praise following his success in the slopestyle event at the Pyeongchang Winter Games on Sunday.

McMorris was fighting for his life in a medically induced coma in March 2017, after breaking 17 bones and suffering a collapsed lung and ruptured spleen when he slammed into a tree while out on his snowboard with friends.

He somehow survived and in his comeback to competition, a big air World Cup in Beijing in November, he triumphed.

Then on Sunday he added bronze to the one he won at Sochi four years ago to seal a stunning return from near-death.

“To land a good run and stand on the podium again, it definitely feels special,” said McMorris.

“It’s definitely a miracle and I’m really thankful.”

(SP)OLY-SOUTH KOREA-PYEONGCHANG-SNOWBOARD-MEN'S SLOPESTYLE Mark McMorris of Canada competes during the Men's Snowboard Slopestyle final at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games. Source: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

McMorris, raised on the flatlands of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, tends not to look too far ahead these days but admits that psychologically he is not over the traumatic events of 11 months ago.

“I was so close to not being able to snowboard again and nothing brings me the joy that snowboarding does,” he said.

“I just want to keep having success in competition and get back into the backcountry and face that fear again and enjoy that with my buddies.”

Within the snowboarding fraternity McMorris has long been well known, winning multiple X Games titles, but his recovery from his deathbed has brought him far greater fame now.

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“It’s such a cool thing that people are backing the story, you can’t force that on people,” he said.

“At the time I wish it hadn’t happened, but now it’s so cool that so many people have reached out and said, ‘You’ve helped me through this part of my life’ or motivated me, or whatever it may be.

“I’m glad I can play that role and feel lucky to be in the position I’m in, being able to inspire others.”

© – AFP 2018

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