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The lasting legacy of Lydia Lassila

16 February 2018

AERIALS: It might not have been the result she wanted to finish on but Lydia Lassila’s illustrious career simply won’t be judged on her final jumps at PyeongChang.

The 36-year-old has achieved it all over the past two decades and despite the initial disappointment of just missing tonight’s aerials finals, there is no doubt her legacy will live on in Australian sporting history.

“I really wanted to be in the final tonight and really should have been in the final but that is the nature of the beast,” said the inspirational mother-of-two.

“For me my story is over and that’s ok, I’m alright with that.

“I’m leaving this sport knowing who I am - a very strong independent individual that can get through any storm and on reflection it’s been wonderful.

“I’ve brought my family along for the ride which hasn’t been easy but we’ve benefited and had some wins from this process.” 

Lassila became the first women to compete in five Olympic Games in PyeongChang where she ended the competition in 14th.

The result followed two Winter Olympic Games where she claimed medals, becoming Olympic Champion in 2010 before she won bronze at Sochi 2014.

It was at her fourth Games where her determination to return from injury and eventually become the first woman to complete a quad-twisting triple somersault that continued to prove why she is an all-time legend.

“I’ve learnt how to be patient and it took me a long time to understand the concept of delayed gratification, of working hard for something to hope that it will pay off in the end.

“It certainly paid off in Vancouver and in Sochi and I was true to my word.

“That 19-year-old (that competed in 2002) hasn’t changed much in her will, determination and competitive drive she’s just learnt life lessons.”

Australian Olympic Team Chef de Mission, Ian Chesterman, was clearly emotional as he sat alongside Lassila to offer his thoughts on one the favourite athletes he has led over the past five Games.

“I want to emphasise the great legacy Lydia leaves," he said.

Olympic Winter Institute of Australia CEO Geoff Lipshut was equally high in his praise of Lassila.

“Lydia is the last of our all-time greats that is active,” Lipshut said.

“Alisa (Camplin), Dale (Begg-Smith), Torah (Bright) and Lydia. It’s been an absolute privilege.”

It will no doubt be hard for one of the nation’s most dogged competitors to watch from the sidelines but Lassila will be out cheering on both Laura Peel and Danielle Scott in the Aerials finals tonight.

“We’ve got two girls in the final and we’ve got to be happy for that.

“It’s important for us and important for them as they’ve worked very hard for that.”

The women's aerials finals kick off at 20:00 tonight (22:00 AEDT). Read yesterday's qualification recap HERE.

Matt Bartolo

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