Olympics-Canadian snowboarder Parrot eyes Beijing gold after cancer battle


FILE PHOTO: Max Parrot of Canada bites his gold medal after winning the Men's Snowboard Big Air at the X Games Norway 2019 at Telenor Arena in Fornebu, Norway August 31, 2019. NTB scanpix/Fredrik Hagen via REUTERS

(Reuters) - Canadian snowboarder Max Parrot said on Friday that the mental toughness he gained during his battle with cancer carried over to the slopes where the slopestyle Pyeongchang silver medallist now hopes to go one better and win gold at the Beijing Olympics.

Parrot's career was put on hold when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in December 2018. Two months after being declared cancer free in mid-2019, Parrot won an X Games big air gold medal in his return to competition.

Showing no signs of rust, Parrot also won a World Cup gold later that year and started off 2020 with another big air gold at the X Games in Aspen.

"Every year I become better and better physically and mentally, and especially going through such a big challenge as cancer you get really more mentally tough," Parrot told a virtual news conference.

"If you look back at my season right after my cancer ... It was pretty much my best year ever."

Parrot finished fifth in his Olympic debut at the 2014 Sochi Games before a runner-up showing at Pyeongchang.

The 27-year-old Canadian pre-qualified for the slopestyle/big air team headed to Beijing based on his results from the 2020-21 winter season and is not shy about his intentions.

"Of course my goal is to go for the gold, that's for sure," said Parrot, whose cancer battle is chronicled in a documentary called "MAX – Life as a Gold Medal" that was released this week on his website.

"But I am really happy as well that if I don't get the gold I won't have any regrets because I did everything in my power over the past couple months and that was something important for me as well, just to not have any regrets."

While there were some days during Parrot's cancer battle where he wondered if he would ever return to the sport he loves, he said he never let those thoughts take over.

"When I had cancer it was 'OK, I'm going to do treatments, I am going to do them as best as possible' and even if I didn't know if the treatments would work or not, in my mind cancer had no chance against me," said Parrot.

"I had a lot of determination and motivation and the whole time I just wanted to get back to my passion as soon as possible. But never getting back to it was not really an option in my head."

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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