Sport Ben Tudhope wins snowboard cross bronze at Beijing Paralympics
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Ben Tudhope wins snowboard cross bronze at Beijing Paralympics

Ben Tudhope won bronze in the snowboard cross, Australia's first medal of the Beijing Paralympics. Photo: AAP/IOC
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Ben Tudhope has won bronze in the para snowboard cross to get Australia off the mark at the Beijing Winter Paralympics.

The 22-year-old star finished third behind close friend and PyeongChang gold medallist Matti Suur-Hamari of Finland and the United States’ Garrett Geros in Monday’s SB-LL2 Big Final to claim his breakthrough medal at his third Games.

World No.1 Tudhope had looked primed for gold or silver but after a slow start, sat fourth behind China’s Qi Sun for most of the race before fighting back with a late burst to claim a medal.

Tudhope is Australia’s second para snowboarding medallist after Simon Patmore, who triumphed in snowboard cross in PyeongChang and also claimed bronze in the banked slalom.

It is the first of two medals the Sydneysider, whose friends and family were cheering him on from a watch party at the Manly Skiff Club, is eyeing in Beijing.

He will also compete in Saturday’s Banked Slalom, looking to significantly better his seventh-placed finish in PyeongChang.

Tudhope entered the games in red-hot form, claiming four consecutive snowboard cross World Cup gold medals and two Crystal Globes in the lead-up.

After cruising through qualifying, he was second in his quarter-final then finished second behind Suur-Hamari in his semi.

He and Suur-Hamari’s ‘Team Unicorn’ teammate Alex Massie missed out on a spot in the big final, leading his semi-final until he had trouble late and was overtaken by Qi and Geros.

-AAP