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Winter Olympics: Greatest showman Morgan helps close the greatest of shows

Yahoo Sport UK
Billy Morgan carries the British flag on his chin during the Olympic closing ceremony in PyeongChang (picture Andy J Ryan/Team GB)

Billy Morgan would win gold, silver and bronze when it comes to celebrating Olympic success, writes James Toney and Pippa Field in PyeongChang.

The British snowboarder shook off a hangover to carry the British flag at the closing ceremony, just hours after his mates pushed him back to the athletes’ village on a luggage trolley.

Morgan admitted to hitting the town hard after his shock big air bronze on Saturday, perhaps mistaking Olympic spirit for a Vodka Red Bull in a party with pals.<

Indeed when team bosses called him in for a meeting, to reveal he would represent the team, he thought he was in trouble after posting a bleary-eyed picture on Instagram. He promised not to do anything stupid, though briefly carried the flag in his mouth – just because he could.

“I don’t actually remember the trolley but apparently it happened,” he joked.

“I was actually in bed pretty early but I sent it too hard, too early and peaked out, we had a great time.

“This morning I got called into the room and I thought I was in big trouble but they gave me the honour and it’s crazy to think it’s me.“

“The flag is heavier than I thought it would be and I don’t use my arms much snowboarding. I was just thinking – don’t mess this up Billy.

“My medal is still in my pocket, I’m just going to try not to lose it.”

  • Relive every moment of the Olympic Winter Games at Eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport app 

If the sports personality award was really about personality, they’d hand the trophy over now. Arise Sir Billy, perhaps?

“Nah, meeting the Queen? That makes me anxious just thinking about it,” he added.

Morgan, who started snowboarding aged 14, certainly brings some colour to the Olympics but admits there were times his long-suffering Mum and equally entertaining Dad, known by his friends at Mad Eddie, despaired.

He also admitted the medal was extra special to his father, who suffered an aneurism earlier this year.

“My dad, grandad and brother were all in the Navy but I’m the odd one out,” he added.

“I didn’t really get on well with academic stuff but I hope I’ve inspired everyone to do their sports.

“It all comes down to facilities and we need more if we want to push the sport further. Freestyle academies have been popping up all over the world and it would be amazing if we had something like that. This could be the beginning.”

Morgan – who refused to rule out a third Games appearance aged 32 in Beijing – is certainly not your every day sportsman. He doesn’t talk about ‘processes’ or ‘controlling the controllables’ or ‘staying in the moment’.

He freely admitted to enjoying a drink to destress between his disappointing performance in the slopestyle, where he was considered a medal contender, and his podium place in the big air, where he wasn’t.

“I hope people think of me as a normal guy, a bloke you could meet in the pub and have a chat with,” he said.

“The Olympics was never part of my ambitions when I started because our event wasn’t in the Games. I know how much it means now though. All my mates were watching back in the pub in Southampton, I think they had a pretty big one.”

  • Relive every moment of the Olympic Winter Games at Eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport app 

Team GB were set a target of five medals at these Games – more than they’ve ever previously won – and party loving Morgan was the man who delivered the target.

“I was slightly worried he’d get to the right stadium and carry the flag the right way but he did a great job,” joked chef de mission Mike Hay.

Team bosses were quick to declare mission accomplished after these Games, though will wonder what might have been had Elise Christie stood up and top medal hope Katie Ormerod not got crocked before the flame was even lit.

And that gives Hay reason for confidence in four years time, when Beijing becomes the first city to stage the summer and winter games

“We want to get into that top 15 and we feel we have individuals that can win gold medals for us, a number of sports will have learned from their experiences and come back stronger for Beijing,” he added.

“We’re asked to make history every time we go to the Games these days but there is a point in time we you can’t do that. However, I think we’ve got a lot of headroom in winter sports.”

  • Relive every moment of the Olympic Winter Games at Eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport app 


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