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Sochi silver surprise packet David Morris comes to the party

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Chief Sports Writer, The Sydney Morning Herald

View more articles from Andrew Webster

David Morris walked into the party not so much like he was stepping onto a yacht but as a down-to-earth Australian who had just become a silver medallist.

And he was still wearing his yellow ski boots.

The party at the Golden Tulip hotel had been thrown to celebrate snowboarder Torah Bright's silver medal in the half-pipe last week. It was heaving as Morris became the first Australian man to claim a medal in aerials, with Australian team members and supporters crowded around large televisions at the bar.

When Morris walked in well after midnight, the place erupted.

“I've still got my boots on,” Morris laughed. “I'm pretty classy, huh?”

Amid all the complaining about funding and the courses comes the story of these Winter Olympics, from an Australian perspective.

For years, the Olympic Winter Institute of Sport rejected Morris repeatedly whenever he asked for a scholarship, believing he wasn't good enough.

He was a lone male wolf in a sport which, in Australia, is dominated by women. Kirstie Marshall. Jacqui Cooper. Alisa Camplin. Lydia Lassila. David Morris?

He finished 13th in Vancouver four years ago, then walked away from the sport for a year, but came back to compete in Sochi.

“When I started I was rejected because I had very little thin legs,” he said. “I wasn't a good enough skier, I wouldn't be good enough to do triple flips, and now I have a silver medal, so...”

Lassila, a gold and bronze medallist, slipped him a note on the morning of his event.

“She wrote me a little note with some inspiring words of wisdom and I took them into the competition,” he said. “I stayed in the moment and didn't think too much. I ended up in the super final and doing a jump I haven't done too many times. And then I landed it.”

That jump was the quad-twisting triple somersault. What did Lassila tell him?

“Stay in the moment,” Morris said. “There was a bit at the end, which was quite touching. You have to sacrifice a bit now to become the best that you can become. Going into that last jump I was prepared to come fourth. I was prepared to lose in order to try for the win. I threw the cat out the window, basically. The ground came up and I was on my feet.

“We strategically did the easy jump earlier so we had the big jump at the end. I landed it and I got to the end and I was like, 'I've seen this before in my dreams. I'm not sure if this is happening'. I wanted to cry, I wanted to spew. I nearly had a breakdown. I can't describe how good it is.”

Morris's parents, Shane and Margaret, and his brother Peter, were on hand to watch him land the jump that secured silver, and were by his side at the after-party later in the evening.

“I watch every jump,” Shane said. “And I watch it through the air, trying to analyse it, but just hoping he is going to land.”

Morris said: “That's lucky, because I close my eyes.”

So what now for the 29-year-old?

“First I need to find a girlfriend,” he said. “That'd be good. I'll probably go into teaching. I graduated from university in that. I want to be a stuntman. I don't think I'll keep going. My body hates me. I'd be happy to leave with that.”

How about a shot of Russian vodka, then?

“I'll take a shot, I guess,” he laughed.

He then joined the rest of the party, which was suddenly in his honour, still wearing his yellow ski boots.

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