Machon fulfils Olympics dream after ‘incredible’ Sochi experience

File photo dated 19/09/2013 of Great Britain's Freestyle skier James Machon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday January 22, 2014. World Cup medallists James Woods, Katie Summerhayes and Rowan Cheshire lead a six-strong freestyle skiing team which also includes Murray Buchan, James Machon and Emma Lonsdale. See PA Story SPORT Britain. Photo credit should read: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire.
File photo dated 19/09/2013 of Great Britain's Freestyle skier James Machon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday January 22, 2014. World Cup medallists James Woods, Katie Summerhayes and Rowan Cheshire lead a six-strong freestyle skiing team which also includes Murray Buchan, James Machon and Emma Lonsdale. See PA Story SPORT Britain. Photo credit should read: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire.
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Hope Valley freestyle skier James Machon says he was a proud man after competing at his first Winter Olympics - and that he is targeting an improvement in four years’ time.

The 23-year-old gave a smile and a thumbs up to the cameras after competing in the first ever men’s half-pipe qualification event in Sochi earlier this week.

Machon finished 23rd overall, where a top-12 berth was required to qualify for the final.

He took a tumble on his first run yet was still awarded a score of 37.40 by the judges before the snow began to settle on the course.

He then braved a tricky run next time around to score 52.20 in his second and final attempt, but it wasn’t quite enough for him to break into the top 12.

Fellow Team GB competitor Murray Buchan also fell short in overall 17th as both athletes missed the cut for the final, which was won by USA’s David Wise.

Machon said afterwards: “I was out most of last season and it was looking virtually impossible for me to make the Olympics eight months ago.

“I worked really hard on my rehab and everything’s paid off.

“It was incredible to land my run here in the Olympics.

“I had a bit of a technical issue on my first run due to the conditions.

“I’m just really happy to get one down at the Olympics because it means everything.”

Now Machon is setting his sights on more competition and the ultimate goal of another Winter Olympics in South Korea in four years.

He added: “I have got a few more competitions lined up this season so hopefully I can build on this and hopefully everything goes well.

“I definitely want to go to the next Winter Olympics and hopefully aim for a medal.”

The former Hope Valley College student earned his place on the GB team despite missing several qualifying events due to injury.

He recently had an operation to deal with a serious infection in his knee, which ultimately saved his career.