Morgan hopes his Big Air bronze will drive big interest in freestyle sports

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Billy Morgan ended his first day as an Olympic medallist by being wheeled back into the Athletes’ Village on a luggage trolley well before midnight after, in his own words, “sending it too hard, too early”.

He prepared for his Big Air bronze medal by having a “wow good time” whizzing electric scooters round a forest, is worried about losing his medal, and is not exactly the man to grill on the funding implications of his success.

On Sunday night, Billy Morgan cemented his status as Great Britain’s unlikely face of the Games when he was given the task of carrying the Union Jack at the closing ceremony in the Olympic Stadium.

Great Britain’s flagbearer Billy Morgan (centre) balances the flag on his chin during the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games
Great Britain’s flagbearer Billy Morgan (centre) balances the flag on his chin during the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games. (Mike Egerton/PA Images)

“I think Billy will be a great role model,” said Hay before the ceremony. “I’m slightly worried he gets the right stadium and carries the flag the right way, but he was humbled and really looking forward to it.”

Morgan’s unlikely Olympic odyssey began in Southampton, the son of a marine engineer known as ‘Mad Eddie’, who is recovering from a serious heart aneurysm he suffered last April, and from whom Morgan undoubtedly inherited his rebellious streak.

You little rippa! Day out to the coast with the boys. @teamgb @visauk

A post shared by Billy Morgan (@billy_morgman) on

“He was in the papers once for shooting himself with a booby-trap he’d made.

We had burglars coming into our house. It wasn’t meant to hurt them, it was just meant to go ‘bang’ if they came over the fence, but he shot himself in the stomach with a 12-gauge cartridge.”

Morgan quit college to pursue snowboarding full-time at the age of 14. He did two seasons “on the jolly”, working as a roofer through summers to fund his wild winters in the snow resorts. “They were the good days,” he grinned.

Two years ago, after he had competed without an anterior cruciate ligament in Sochi, and in the same year as he underwent major knee reconstructive surgery, Morgan became the first man to land the world’s first quad cork.

His achievements in Pyeongchang on Saturday will open his sport to a whole new generation, equipped with  indoor snow-domes, who now have an unlikely hero to emulate.

“It all comes down to facilities and we need more if we want to push the sport further,” said Morgan.

“Freestyle academies have been popping up all over the world and it would be amazing if we had something like that.”

For the time being, Morgan will bear the burden of the unlikeliest of legacies: a refreshingly honest illustration of why elite sport need not always be seen through the prism of funding and long-term targets.

“I hope we’ve inspired everyone to do their sports,” added Morgan. “Everyone is just a person, and if someone isn’t relatable it’s hard to follow them. I think people think of me as a normal guy.”

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