Sochi-bound Rahles-Rahbula hopes to go out on a high

SOCHI-bound former Camperdown skier Cameron Rahles-Rahbula has left no stone unturned in his quest to go out on a high.

Rahles-Rahbula, 30, is part of an 11-member Australian squad fine-tuning preparations for the 2014 Winter Paralympics in the Russian city from March 7 to 16.

The physiotherapist (pictured), who is these days based in Geelong, will contest the men’s standing class in what will be his last competition on the international stage.

He has qualified for five events — downhill, slalom, giant slalom, super-G and super combined — but will decide which ones he competes in after arriving in Russia.

Rahles-Rahbula had retired from the sport after a training camp in New Zealand last July, due to the demands on his wife Emily and son Archie, 2.

But he contested a World Cup event at Thredbo in September, winning two medals, and team officials convinced him to have a crack at a fourth Paralmpics.

His acceptance was on the condition he could prepare himself physically in Geelong during summer and hit snow a month before competing.

He will leave Australia tomorrow bound for Austria, where he will link up with his teammates and coach Steve Graham.

Rahles-Rahbula said the makeshift preparation allowed him to build muscle bulk and had kept him fresh ahead of his skiing swansong.

“There is a fine line between being too heavy and being too light, but I’ve always been on the lighter side,” he said.

‘‘I’ve been able to put on the muscle mass.

“Generally going away you tend to lose a bit with the business of races and travelling. 

‘‘You don’t mind being a bit heavier at the start knowing you’ll trim down.

“But I’ve had the luxury of maintaining my weight better, I haven’t had the problem of going through a full season of racing.”

Rahles-Rahbula was Australia’s most successful competitor at the 2010 Winter Paralympics in Vancouver, Canada.

He won two bronze medals, in the standing slalom and the standing super combined, becoming a national hero in the process.

Rahles-Rahbula said he was confident a lack of time on snow would not hinder his performance when he hit the slopes.

“It’s been quite a challenge for one-leggers over the last few years,” he said.

‘‘We’ve got realistic expectations.

“We are medal chances. But my focus is on my own performance. 

‘‘I’d love to get a medal but I’m not putting that pressure on me.

“I come in as an underdog, and rightly so. But for me it’s about focusing on what I can do. 

‘‘If the skiing is there, that’s fantastic.

“That’s what makes me so dangerous, having that lack of pressure behind me.”

Rahles-Rahbula said he expected the Paralympics to be “quite sentimental”.

“It will be an emotional event,” he said. 

“The Games usually has a lot of emotion in it anyway, let alone being your last season representing your country.

“It will be a different scenario but it hasn’t really changed my preparation. 

‘‘I’m doing what I can to be as fit and strong as I can.”

The Winter Olympics run from Saturday through to February 23.

 The Winter Paralympics follow, from March 7 to 16.

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