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'Never afraid': French 16-year-old snowboarder Pereira wins surprise Olympic silver

Martin Bureau, AFP

France's Julia Pereira de Sousa Mabileau surprised everybody except herself as she crossed the line in second place at the end of Friday's snowboard cross final at the Pyeongchang Winter Games.

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The 16-year-old came through a momentous battle to finish second behind Michela Moioli of Italy at Pyeongchang’s Phoenix Snow Park on Friday.

In doing so, Pereira de Sousa Mabileau finished ahead of reigning Olympic champion Eva Samkova, five-time world champion Lindsey Jacobellis and highly-favoured compatriot Chloe Trespeuch.

Starstruck French prodigy joins snowboard elite with silver

In such illustrious company, Pereira de Sousa Mabileau could be forgiven for being nervous before the final but the teenager dismissed that notion when speaking to reporters after the event.

"My objective was to make the final. After that, I had nothing to lose," she said.

"Maybe it's being young - although it's now a year and half that I've been on the world cup circuit - but I've never been afraid. In fact, I'm never like that. I never get afraid, I just go for it."

Pereira de Sousa Mabileau is ranked seventh in the world cup rankings and has only ever reached two world cup podiums, yet when it mattered most she delivered the run of her life.

Speaking afterwards, Pereira de Sousa Mabileau said it was special to compete with and beat 32-year-old Jacobellis, who is twice her age.

"It's a bit crazy to find myself in the final with girls much older, who have much more experience than me," she said.

"I was watching these girls on the television when I was four, and at Sochi."

"Now I finished ahead of her," she added.

"A silver medal? It's unbelievable, I'm so happy."

(REUTERS)

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