Jillian Colebourn is an Australian biathlete. She was born in Sydney on the 9th of January 1995. She has already competed in two Youth/Junior World Championships in Raubichi and Chiele Gradistei. Last season she also took part in the new Junior IBU Cup.
Follow Jillian on Twitter: @JillColebourn
How did you discover biathlon and why did you want to become a biathlete?
I started downhill skiing with my family when I was a child then decided to focus on cross country skiing when I was about 16. That same year I discovered biathlon through the cross country community and decided to try the sport as I had experience with rifle shooting as a Scout, and it sounded like fun!
Is biathlon becoming more popular in Australia? Do you get help from any sports institutes or do you need to raise your own funds?
Australian Biathlon is encouraging more kids to try out the sport and holds training camps and other opportunities to develop the sport. Biathlon in Australia is slowly developing more interest in the areas where members live and are able to volunteer, however the sport is still very small with only about 100 biathletes in total ranging from children to masters and the elite athletes to novices. Some institutes such as my University help to support my training, and the athletes also receive some help from Australian Biathlon, however most of my funds for training and races are raised by myself. I am also very lucky to have KV+ Australia as a sponsor of mine, as they have helped me to access the best poles, race skis and other cross country ski gear.
Can you concentrate solely on biathlon at the moment or are you still in education too?
I am currently studying Full-Time Mechatronic Engineering and Commerce at the University of Sydney, as well as training. However, I have found that I am not able to focus on biathlon as much as I would like, and so have reduced my study load for the next year to part-time so that I can concentrate on biathlon.
Do you train in Australia in the off season? It is winter there so can you train on snow quite a lot? What are the facilities like at Hotham?
I train in Australia for most of the year, except for the Northern-hemisphere winter. In Autumn and the Spring, I do normal summer training at home while I attend university such as roller skiing, shooting, swimming, biking and running. I will spend the majority of winter staying in the ski resort Hotham, as it has the only biathlon range in Australia. Hotham is about 10 hours drive from Sydney, so I will stay there for a few weeks at a time. My university is very supportive, so I continue to stay and train when the semester starts and keep up to date with my studies online. I will also occasionally go to Perisher, another skiing resort closer to Sydney (about 5 hours) as it has good cross-country tracks but no shooting range unfortunately. Currently the range at Hotham has about 12 lanes, with mechanical targets. The facilities are not perfect, but we are a small sport and we have everything that we need, we even have an outdoor drop-dunny!
Can you tell me about last season, what races did you take part in and what results did you get?
Last season I was based in Livigno, Italy where my coach lives and competed in some European National cups such as the Swiss Cup, Italian Cup, Junior IBU cups and the Youth/Junior World Championships in Romania. Unfortunately, I peaked early in the season so I did not perform my best at the JWCH and was disappointed with my results. However at the Junior IBU cups earlier in the season, I consistently place around 40th to 50th position out of about 100 competitors. I was pleased with this result as it is hard to develop as a biathlete in Australia and it was a positive step in the direction of my goals.
What did you learn about yourself last season? Are you working on anything specific that you want to improve for the coming season?
Last season I learned that during competitions I am quite reliably a good shooter. However this came at the cost of having very slow shooting times. I have been working on improving my shooting speed during summer training and aim to improve my racing shooting times during the upcoming Australian Winter season.
What are your goals for this season?
This coming Northern Hemisphere season, I plan to compete in a few IBU cups, some European National Cups and the World University Games. This will be my first time at an IBU Cup so my goal is simply to get a feel for the competition and standards so that I know how to improve for the coming years.
Who has been the biggest inspiration or supporter of your biathlon career and why?
My biggest supporter of my biathlon career has to be my parents who encouraged and supported me from day 1. When I first started biathlon they knew nothing about it, but have grown to be large parts of the community here in Australia to support not only myself but the growth of the sport as a whole. However, my biggest inspiration is definitely my coach, Luca Bormolini from Italy. He pushes me to become the best athlete I can be and believes in my abilities even when I do not and I can always trust his coaching.
Do you have a favourite race (sprint, pursuit etc.)? Which is it and why?
My favourite race is a sprint, because I am able to stay focused to ski fast and shoot very well. In longer races, my shooting accuracy tends to vary much more and I find it much harder to maintain focus on ski technique and pushing myself.
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