Tag Archives: Lee Jackson

Marcel Laponder: The Interview!

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Marcel Laponder was born in Pretoria, South Africa on the 23rd of May 1978. He competed for Great Britain after he moved to the UK when he was 21 and joined the British Army. It was through the army that he discovered biathlon and took up the sport in 2005. He made his World Cup debut in 2008 and his best result was 57th place which came in the Sprint race in Khanty-Mansiysk in season 2010/11. Unfortunately he has had to announce his retirement from the sport due to commitments with the army.

You can like Marcel’s Facebook Page: Marcel Laponder Biathlete


What was your best or favourite race from your biathlon career?

2011 Altenberg IBU Cup Pursuit race where I shot 0 0 0 0 going from 51st to 35th place and a then still active German Athlete said ”how did you do that dude!” That athlete was Daniel Graf who later was to become my coach.


What is your best memory from your biathlon career?

Too many… every race is special and is a honour and privilege to start in. One of those memories would be qualifying for the World Championships pursuit race in Khanty Mansiysk. This year getting my first chance to start the Relay as the first leg in the relay mass starts. The past season’s team atmosphere and camaraderie was memorable.

What advice would you give to young people who would like to become a professional biathlete?


The difference between making it and not is having the correct mind set. Biathlon is brutal not only physically but also full of disappointments which is over come by being mentally strong and having the confidence to believe you can achieve it. What you think will have a huge affect as this translates in to not only shooting reaction but also how you approach training and racing. Of course this alone is no guarantee and the correct smart hard training comes with it and of course a little bit of talent and luck.

You know Scott Dixon and Amanda Lightfoot very well. How do you think they will do this season?

Scott is still young and still has a bright future ahead of him, his strength in the past like his father has been his shooting. As long as Scott can keep securing sponsorship then he is the future of British Biathlon. His focus this season will be to qualify for the next OWG.

Amanda has the hunger for Biathlon. Her training program is brutal and for this she needs to be a tough cookie which she achieves by being mentally strong which also shows in her aggressive racing style. As long as Amanda keeps competing for a bit longer then she has it in her to one day to potentially achieve a top 30 or better. It is not a question if rather a question of when she will achieve it. This past season alone there was at least one opportunity where she nearly achieved this. Don’t forget she started really late in the sport, compared to other athletes who started when they were kids and compared to Amanda who would still be in their teens in terms of training years, then what she has achieved is pretty impressive.

What’s the situation in the Men’s Team this year? Will there be enough guys for the Relay team? What about for the IBU Cup?

Last year we were not able to enter all the relay events due to Jacko and Kevin who retired, also funding was limited for the far flung events in America. This has meant that as a nation we have dropped a start slot in the World Cup. One of the usual World Cup men will probably also be racing on IBU Cup due to the start slot this year. If there is enough qualified athletes then GBR could potentially enter the Relay on the World Cup although the priority this year is OWG. For IBU Cup we have upcoming athletes who are being trained by ex Olympian athlete Lee Jackson (Jacko). So his athletes will most likely fill the available IBU Cup spots.


Do you have a favourite biathlon track? Where is it and why?

Hochfilzen. I love the course with the fast technical corners and the short up and downs. It has a hard range approach which makes things interesting, I feel at home there and generally have always had descent results in Hocky. Also Forni Avoltri is a track which I love, it is an IBU Cup course. A small venue which has a hard track tucked away in the mountains with stunning scenery.

Perhaps not really a track but location. Frassinoro, Italy, which hosts the Frassinoro Summer biathlon festival, super friendly biathlon loving town and a great event with Italian flair.


Who is your favourite biathlete (past or present) and why?

Marie Dorin Habert and Tim Burke must be some of the humblest athletes and this I respect. Simon Fourcade I also like and is an athlete that I would really like to see do well.

Does your rifle have a name?

Hmm no

Describe yourself in three words.

Hmm I didn’t know so I asked three people:
my wife says: chilled out
Scott says: reliable
Amanda says: honest

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): I need to mention two, Canada and Norway
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Quentin Fillon Maillet has a sweet rifle stock.
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): I really like the suit of Finland this year.
Favourite shooting range: Hochfilzen
Lucky bib number: 23 🙂
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Ha easy… Scott Dixon…watching him attempting to pack his bag to travel to the next event is entertainment for hours.
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Karoly Gombos from Hungry always easy to talk to and approachable. The Japanese coaches are probably some of the friendliest on circuit.
Best thing about being a biathlete: Hard question to pin point, so many small things that add up. Being able to train in beautiful locations, the people and places that I meet and see. The race atmosphere created by the crowds. Its a hard sport with so many variables and just being given the chance to see if I can do it makes it worth it.

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Scott Dixon: The Interview 2!!!

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Back by popular demand -well he is popular so I demanded it – it’s Scott Dixon! The 21-year-old Brit has made a few changes over the summer in his residence and his coaches and is looking forward to the new season. He kindly took some time before the season gets under way to tell us all about his training and his goals for the World Cup.

You can follow Scott’s progress on his Facebook page: Scott Dixon Biathlete.

First and most importantly you turned 21 over the summer. Did you get any good presents? Did you celebrate with a wild party?

Well, I have never been much of a crazy party animal, but I was lucky enough to move to a beautiful location in France (Aix-Les-Bains) with my girlfriend. We are both able to train in the area as Katie competes in Figure Skating and there are good facilities in Annecy. I am able to train in La Féclaz which is a relatively new development and the set up there is of a very high standard.

You have 3 new coaches in France one of whom is Alexis Boeuf. What are they like as coaches and what have you learned from them?

I really like all of my coaches. They are all very helpful and have a lot of knowledge to share. It has been interesting for me to see how differently two great Biathlon nations operate and learn how two different approaches to training can be so effective.

You went to Corsica for the French Summer Roller Ski Championships. How did that go? I believe you were caught up in an accident there also – what happened?

I was training on the beautiful island of Corsica with my team and unfortunately, I was caught up in an accident. I was there to compete at the French National Summer Roller Ski championships. The Island is criss-crossed with great roads to explore on roller skis, and about 40 minutes into a 55km loop, a group of over 8 of us came quickly upon a very hard corner at 45kmph. The man who cycled the course the previous day had forgotten that the corner was that soon in the skate. There was no time to react and about six of us piled into the debris at the side of the road, including rocks. I lost a lot of skin! Two athletes were taken to hospital by ambulance and I was taken back to our accommodation to be bandaged up. I didn’t sleep much that night and racing was a nightmare two days later with a lot less skin left on my left leg!

Last year you had the very uncommon compartmental syndrome in the abdominal muscles and this summer a double pole machine fell on your head! Why do these things happen to you?!

Well the list of unfortunate things doesn’t stop at compartmental syndrome and hostile gym machines.

My list is disturbingly long. It has come to a point in my process as an athlete when I have to ask myself if these incidents have come around due to my own stupidity or lack of restraint in certain situations. I think there is an element of that, I must admit, but I also think I have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time a few times. On the other hand a lot of luck has come my way, and I tend to forget that in the face of all my bad luck. It’s generally how I confuse ‘sod’s law’ for just life as it comes in general.

You were also competing in Arcon against all the French Biathletes recently. How was that experience?

Arcon was interesting. I shot 80% which was slightly disappointing and I skied very slowly compared to my expectations. It was very soon after my injury so I was told not to see it as a negative and more as an experience. However, I couldn’t help feeling I had let myself down somehow. Any athlete can relate to this I am sure.

What are your goals for this season?

I am now hoping to maintain my World Cup qualifier by competing well on World cup instead of having to re-qualify on the IBU cup. I know I am capable of this as I did so twice at last year’s World Championships. The qualification points are harder to achieve with the new IBU points system, but I am hoping that with good improvement from last year I will be ready to achieve this goal.

What are your strengths as a biathlete and what are your weaknesses? Do you have anything that you specifically want to improve before next season?

My main strength is my shooting. Last year I finished the season with an overall hit rate of 85% and managed to clear 20/20 and the next day 10/10 which is a clear personal best for me. My ski speed however is a big weakness. With so many setbacks, my progress is not where I hoped to see it at this point. If everything goes to plan in the coming months, I will see improvements in my ski speed. I will be working extremely hard to improve this aspect of my performance.

British Biathlon is looking for new sponsorship again. How will it affect you if it doesn’t get the funds it needs? Will you be able to go to the North American rounds for example?

I try to keep the issue out of my mind because there is very little I can do to affect it. I will not attend the races in North America due to this funding issue which is a shame, but it may also mean more time to get in good shape for the World Championships. So despite the clear negative there is a very clear positive I can take from it. I also believe with the passionate team that is the BBU that sponsorship will be found soon.

Lee Jackson and Kevin Kane have both retired. What affect will that have on the team and on you personally?


I was sad to see them both retire. Kevin was somewhat of a mentor for me in my first few years, keeping me under control and trying to pare down some of my typical teenage bad habits. So now at 21 I feel a bit old for my age, when new guys are selected for the team and I find myself pointing out things that I was guilty of not so long ago (mainly Biathlon related as I am still an ”admin case” around the house). Jackson is now working closely with the IBU cup team and is still very much in the system. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him race again. That applies for both of them in fact, as we don’t have enough people qualified for a relay without them.

Will we see you and Amanda Lightfoot in the Single Mixed Relay this season? They are on the same day as the Mixed Relays again but you two could do really well in it I think.

Sadly not this season, unless attending North America becomes an option, as that is the only remaining Single mixed relay this season. However, I believe that this is the event of the future for Amanda and me. Is a podium possible in the future? I don’t see why not!

We know you are a bit of a biathlon geek! Do you have any predictions for who you think will do well this season and maybe a younger biathlete we should be keeping our eye on?

Of course I am, like everyone I know who started watching casually and fell in love with the sport. I have a strong suspicion that Simon Schempp will be the Overall World Cup winner this year. I believe that Jean-Guillaume Beatrix will win a pursuit or mass start competition this season, and hopefully more than one. Andrejs Rastorgujevs will be one of the fastest on the track over the whole season with a podium finish and Tarjei Bø will be top three in the Overall World Cup rankings at the end of the season. Keep an eye on Fabien Claude, he is extremely fast, just a bit older than me and more consistent in his shooting. He will be one of the top names on World Cup in the coming years. Look out for Justine Braisaz (also French) for the women. With several World Cup starts already she has a big future ahead of her I think.

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Amanda Lightfoot: The Interview!

lightfoot

Amanda Lightfoot is Great Britain’s top female biathlete. She was born on the 30th of January 1987 and is currently in the British Army. She is from the North East of England but lives and trains in Norway. Her best result was at the World Championships in Khanty Mansiysk in 2011 which was a 34th place finish. Her top result on the World Cup is 46th which she is determined to change this season.

You can follow Amanda on Twitter: @amandabiathlon1
You can like her Facebook page: Amanda Lightfoot Biathlete- Fan Page

Why did you become a biathlete?

I would have to say biathlon chose me, I had not even heard of the sport. I was actually on duty in the army out in Iraq when I got asked if I would like to go skiing for some adventure training when I returned and of course I jumped at the chance having never skied in my life before.

As you are still in the British Army do you still have military duties to carry out or do they let you concentrate on biathlon? (in case Britain has to go to war with Norway?!!)

The military are fantastic to me, they allow me to train full time as long as I can keep my military career and sporting career on a level with each other. For this I complete the necessary military courses when needed so when I return to the military full time I will fit back in no problem.

There have been a few retirements from the British team this year. What do you think it will be like without Lee Jackson and Kevin Kane? Will there be more pressure on you as one of the more experienced members of the team now?

I think they will be missed in the men’s team this year especially the relays, but I feel that there are also some up and coming young stars in our team and they will take their place and bring the men’s team back up to the standard it was if not even better.

Many of your best results come at World Championships. Why do you think that is? Do you love the big occasions?

I ask myself the same question. But yes I do love the World Championships and look forward to this event every year. I’m hoping for the same this year in Oslo as Norway has become my second home and it would be great to perform well here.

What training have you done so far this summer and what’s the plan until the start of the season?

I have done a lot of training so far this summer involving long endurance sessions, hard intervals, strength based workouts in the gym, balance and core, running, actually the list could go on and on, let’s just say I feel well prepared for the up coming season.

I will now be attending a couple of camps in Ruhpolding before the season and also aim to go onto snow at the beginning of November.

What are your goals for the coming season?

My goals for this season are:
To improve my shooting percentages in both prone and standing from last year.
I am aiming to be in the Top 40 on the World Cup, and I also believe a Top 30 finish is achievable when I bring everything together on the day.
To ski technically better overall.
To be happy and continue to absolutely love what I do.

Do you receive any funding? If not how do you pay for equipment, travel etc

I do not have any personal sponsors although the Army pay me a wage, this gets spent monthly on living costs i.e accommodation, food, travel, equipment , physiotherapy and leaves little for anything else. The team has now lost its main financial sponsor, so we are currently looking for a new sponsor to believe in us and Great Britain’s future in biathlon. So if you are reading this and are interested or know a company who might be then please get in contact with the British Biathlon Union or send an email to info@britishbiathlon.com . It would be amazing.

Describe your typical race day. What time do you get up? What do you eat? etc.

My Race Day:

Depending on when the race starts is dependent on what time I get up. But I don’t normally sleep past 9am.

First a morning light run to mobilise the body and kick start my metabolism.

Breakfast- coffee!!!! I can not function without a morning coffee and if I could, I would take my nespresso machine in my suitcase the whole season.
I do not have any specific breakfast items, it depends on what is available at each venue, but porridge is always good in the winter.

Then I am usually in my room normally dry firing and organising my race bag and race clothes.

Then it’s relaxing time either read a book, watch some TV , or sing along to every song on my playlist (usually the latter).

Before I leave for the race I do visualisation taking my mind around the whole course having a perfect race and every time at the end I’m always stood on that podium.. 😁🇬🇧 Maybe one day it will happen for real!

Then it’s down to the stadium to test and pick my race skis , zero my rifle ready for the race and give myself a good warm up before the start.

What are your strengths as a biathlete and what are your weaknesses? Do you have anything that you specifically want to improve before next season?

I would say my “weakness” is probably my technique and this is also the main thing I want to improve on this year.

My strengths include my strong mind. I feel I am quite a tough girl in the mind and can really push myself to the limit. Believing in myself is a massive strength, I believe that nothing is impossible if you work your hardest for it. I feel my shooting will become a strength this year also, as last year results proved a massive need for improvement, but I have applied so much time into it this summer and now I’m feeling more confident than ever. I have a lot of strengths and I don’t really like to think of the word weaknesses I prefer the term goals. 🙂

Can we expect to see you in the Single Mixed Relay this year or do you think the schedule will mean it’s not possible?

I am sure you will see Great Britain competing in the Single Mixed Relays this year, I think this is such a great competition especially for the spectators. It’s not my strongest race but I’m looking forward to competing in it for sure and seeing what’s possible.

Does your rifle have a name?

My rifle does not have a name but I’m open to suggestions?? Haha.

Describe yourself in three words.

Determined / #alwayssomething

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: Oberhof
Favourite biathlete (past or present): Ole Einar Bjørndalen
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): Sprint
Favourite/best race of your career so far? Nove Mesto Mixed Relay coming out of the range on the first leg as race leader.., amazing and unforgettable.
Favourite food: Can I have chocolate as a food? Lol In fact roasted marshmallows covered in melted chocolate. Yum! But if I had to choose a ‘Real Food’ I would say a typical British Sunday dinner with roasted chicken, vegetables, potatoes and gravy. It’s what I miss when I’m in Norway.
Favourite singer/band: Michael Jackson I have to start dancing and singing when I hear his music. He’s epic!
Favourite film: Dirty Dancing. I watched this repeatedly when I was a teenager and always wanted to find a Patrick Swayze to do the lift. (You will only know what I mean if you have watched the film) lol
Favourite sports team: Sunderland
Favourite TV show: The Vampire Diaries.

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World Champs 2015 Review: Men

boe wc

After many days of anticipation and then the opening ceremony, action finally got underway in the 2015 Biathlon World Championships in Kontiolahti. The first race took place on Thursday afternoon and saw 26 teams take part in the Mixed Relay. The conditions were really tough with warm temperatures making the snow wet and it looked like it was up to the biathletes knees!!!

The race got off to a great start with Fuyuko Suzuki taking the lead after 2 shoots for Japan. Veronika Vitkova took the Czech Republic into the lead however in the first exchange and it was then Soukalova and Domracheva who were in contention in the second leg. Domracheva handed over to Chepelin for Belarus and he managed to hold on to the lead in his leg to send Liadov out first for the final leg. Unfortunately for him he only had an 11 second lead and couldn’t hold off Moravec from the Czech Republic who came home first to win gold for his country. He was followed by Martin Fourcade who made up a lot of time to bring France home for silver and Tarjei Boe continued his brother Johannes’ good work by hanging on for bronze despite a penalty loop from Eckhoff. Belarus were fourth by an agonizing 4 seconds. The Finnish team put in a great display for the home crowd and were in with a podium shot going into leg 3. They ended in 9th which was a 7 place improvement on their start of 16th.

On Saturday we had the Sprint competition. Conditions were better but still far from ideal for the 129 biathletes. This didn’t seem to bother Johannes Thingnes Boe however as he went out and won! It easy to forget that this is his first ever start in an individual event in a Senior World Championships and he couldn’t have done any better on his debut. There was more good news for the Boe family as big brother Tarjei shot clean to come home to win bronze. It was guaranteed to be a good night out in Styrn, the boys home town, on Saturday! Splitting up the family however was the history making Nathan Smith. He took the silver and is the first Canadian man to win a World Championship medal. He has been getting closer and closer to the podium all year and timed his best ever result to perfection. It wasn’t a great day for some of the big favourites with Martin Fourcade in 12th, Anton Shipulin in 18th, Emil Svendsen in 36th and Simon Schempp in 77th!

Johannes went into the Pursuit as favourite but he had a total nightmare missing 8 shots and finished 31st. On the other hand Germany’s Erik Lesser had a magnificent race. He shot clear and he controlled the pace from the front after the first shoot. He showed remarkable mental strength to hold his nerve shooting not only the perfect 20/20 but he shot fast as well. He always performs well on the big occasion and can now add World Championship gold to his Olympic silver. In second was Anton Shipulin who paced the race well and shot 19/20. At the final shoot when the guys in contention for the final two places missed around him he and Tarjei Boe kept their cool and fought it out on the track for the remaining medals. It was obvious that Shipulin had the upper hand on the skis but it might have been different if Boe had been on his top ski form. Even so he won his third bronze in three races. Ole Einar Bjoerndalen produced a good race to finish in 5th as did Vladimir Iliev who was 6th.

The men had three days of rest before they had the Individual 20km. Normal service was resumed with Martin Fourcade winning yet again! He is very hard to beat at this race. Emil Hegle Svendsen tried his best to do that but he just doesn’t have the ski speed this season. Martin skied 1 minute 20 seconds faster than him as he missed 1 shot but still won comfortably. What was joy for one Fourcade was anguish for the other. Simon took the lead early in the race and shot clear to suggest a podium place would be his. It wasn’t to be however as Ondrej Moravec with 1 missed shot out skied him to take the bronze medal by five seconds. It is the second time Simon Fourcade has finished 4th at this World Championships which must be horribly frustrating for him but on the bright side this is his best season for a long while. Sergey Semenov finished 5th to secure the small Crystal Globe in the Individual for Ukraine. There were also good performances from Lee Jackson of Great Britain in 39th and Alex Almoukov of Australia in 43rd. It was also good to see Italy’s Christian De Lorenzi rolling back the years in 12th adding to his other 2 TOP 30 finishes here.

The Relay was next up and it was won by a dominant German team to match the gold from their Women’s team. They only used 3 spare rounds and were always in the TOP 3. After Arnd Peiffer’s excellent third leg they controlled the race and no one else could catch them. The team of Erik Lesser, Daniel Boehm, Peiffer and Simon Schempp meant a very happy medal ceremony for Germany. In silver medal position came Norway with Emil Hegle Svendsen, Tarjei and Johannes Boe helping Ole Einar Bjoerndalen to his 40th World Championship medal. He was the only one of them not to use a spare round and led after his leg so he is still showing those youngsters how it’s done! I am happy to report that France were third finally getting Simon Fourcade onto the podium and preventing his nervous breakdown after finishing 4th twice already. Jean Guillaume Beatrix, Quentin Fillon Maillet and little brother Martin did a good job!

To finish we had the Mass Start which proved to be a very good race to end with. Jakov Fak took gold in a great race which went all the way to the finish line. In second came Ondrej Moravec to add silver to his gold and bronze to complete the set. Third place went to surprise, surprise Mr. Bronze himself Tarjei Boe who leaves with 5 medals. He beat teammate Bjoerndalen who was fourth but he had an excellent race shooting clean and always up at the front.

So that’s all from Kontiolahti. It has been a great World Championships and France came out on top of the medal table in front of Germany and Norway. I am sure the biathletes are glad to see the back of the “Wall” as they have been up it about a million times now but they can’t rest yet! It’s on to Khanty Mansisyk for the last World Cup of the season!


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Great Scott!

dixon

Fourth on the google search list behind a motor racer, a golfer and a boxer Scott Dixon is a popular sporting name! Most importantly however it is the name of a biathlete. Scott was born on the 9th of July 1994. The youngest of the Great Britain World Cup squad he is also the only civilian on the team. The others are all members of the armed forces.

At the age of nearly 20 he has been on the World Cup scene for 2 years now but has so far been used sparingly at the top level. He has taken part in some individual events but has competed more often as a member of the GB relay team. Still classed as a junior he also had the chance of going to Presque Isle in March to take part in the Youth/Junior World Championships. His previous 2 championships in Obertilliach 2013 and Kontiolahti 2012 yielded a best result of 40th in the Sprint. This year however he improved greatly and came in 23rd in the 15km Individual.

That was the best ever result achieved by a British athlete in these championships beating Mark Gee’s result of 35th in 1991. In fact it could have been even better as he was in second place after the first two shoots. Unfortunately Scott heard the stadium announcer mention his placing which maybe contributed to a poor third shoot and put paid to what could have been an outstanding achievement for a British athlete. Pressure is a big part of the sport though and is another step on the learning curve for Scott.

Speaking of learning Scott doesn’t have a bad teacher when it comes to biathlon. His Dad is former GB biathlete and cross country skier Mike Dixon. He is now a biathlon coach for the Cairngorm Biathlon and Nordic Ski Club in Scotland and happens to be one of a few people who have competed in 6 Olympic games. He is basically Scotland’s Bjoerndalen but unfortunately without the medals! So Scott has a great biathlon foundation, good genes and a good coach, and is a big hope for the future.

However it’s not easy competing for Great Britain in biathlon. They don’t have the resources and facilities that other countries do and like many biathletes Scott had to go and live in Germany to be able to train to a high standard. Ruhpolding is a home away from home for a lot of GB athletes and it seems to be working for Scott. Dixon junior still has 1 Junior World Championships that he is eligible to take part in next year in Raubitschi, Belarus. He has the IBU Cup and hopefully more World Cups to compete in too in season 2014/15.

On the World Cup it would be interesting to see Scott changing places in the relay team. He is always used 4th and so doesn’t usually get the chance to compete an entire lap as teams who are lapped are stopped after the last shoot and so don’t finish the race. I would like to see him tried at second or third so he can get more experience of pressure and the opportunity to actually complete the whole distance with some real competition around him.

Next season will be an important one for Scott. With the likes of Lee Jackson and Kevin Kane not getting any younger (sorry guys!) he is in line to take over from them. His ultimate goal has to be to represent Team GB at the next Olympics in Pyeongchang 2018 but to do this he needs to show continual improvement and work on not only the physical but also the mental side of biathlon. At 20 he still has time to get better and I am sure he will be a great representative for Great Britain. It’s only a matter of time before he moves up the google search list too because he is definitely a Great Scott!

You can Like Scott’s Facebook page: Scott Dixon Biathlete.

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Funding Biathlon: Not so Great, Britain!

British-Olympic-Association

Biathlon is not exactly Britain’s most popular sport. Actually if you asked the average Briton they probably couldn’t tell you what it is. However this does mean that it doesn’t have any biathletes, it just means that they don’t give them any help. The best known of these are Lee Jackson, Kevin Kane and Amanda Lightfoot. They are not the only ones though. Amongst the ranks of the British Biathlon Union, the national governing body for biathlon in the U.K, are Scott Dixon, Marcel Laponder, Adele Walker and Nerys Jones to name but a few.

The BBU is funded by sponsors, the IBU, the Army Winter Sports Association and by the athletes themselves. It is run on voluntary basis and the paid staff consists of a Secretary General and a wax technician. They have no performance director or any support staff who are paid. There is no support for biathlon from any of Britain’s main sports bodies or any National Lottery funding.

Why is this? Well for all the talk of a lasting legacy in sport after the London Olympics this only seems to apply to sports that have “podium potential”. So basically if you get a medal you can have some more money. As far as I am concerned this is completely the wrong way round and leaves a lot of Winter Sports stuck in a vicious circle. If you have won a medal it seems to me that you are doing pretty well as it is with the funding you have.

Surely it would be better to give sports like biathlon more money to give them a chance to catch up with the likes of curling and skeleton. How are you supposed to improve if you are not funded? All you end up with is a couple of sports who might provide a medal and a lot that end up struggling. You would think that money could be given to sports like biathlon to give them a chance to see what they could do even on a trial basis or on a sliding scale depending on each year’s results on the IBU Cup and World Cup instead of basing everything on Olympic performances.

Another thing that could be improved is the amount of races that the British Biathletes, and those from other countries with the same issues, have to compete in. On the IBU World Cup you have to finish in the Top 60 to qualify to compete in the Pursuit race, and you must be ranked in the Top 30 to take part in the Mass Start. So if you have a World Cup round where there is a Sprint, Pursuit and Mass Start if you don’t make it into the Top 60 and you are not ranked in the Top 30 overall you could find yourself travelling to places like Khanty- Mansiysk or Kontiolahti to take part in one race. This can be expensive if you are not well funded and is hardly going to give you valuable experience on the World Cup especially if you are a young athlete.

Maybe they could think about introducing a B race for the Pursuit where the Top 5 or 10 finishers are guaranteed to take part in the next Pursuit A race to give them an incentive to race for. Or maybe they could re-introduce the Team race for the lower ranked countries and reward them with some funding rather than points. I imagine these suggestions might be difficult to put on the schedule and cause logistical difficulties but I am sure the fans wouldn’t complain as you would get more races to see each day.

As it stands at the moment the BBU and the athletes themselves have done a remarkable job to have achieved what they have done so far. However the lack of funding, assistance and interest in biathlon from the Sports funding bodies especially after a successful summer Olympic campaign means that you are not so Great, Britain!

For more information on British Biathlon:
http://www.britishbiathlon.com/
For information on the biathletes:
http://britishbiathlon.blogspot.co.uk/
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Update as of January 2014: Good news on the funding. The BBU has a new sponsor, Aspen Healthcare Solutions, for the next 4 years securing funds until the Winter Olympics in 2018!