BIATHLON: Australia has gone head to head against a world class field and finished eighth in the Sapporo 2017 Asian Winter Games mixed relay, held Saturday at the Nishioka Biathlon Stadium.
In true fighting spirit the Aussies gave it everything, but their pace was no match for the leaders and final team member Jeremey Flanagan was lapped exiting the standing shoot, thus having to pull out.
Biathlon is largely an individual sport and Flanagan said the camaraderie of the team’s event lifted the Aussies.
“Normally we train together but we’re racing separately,” Flanagan said.
“Here we have to push really hard for the next person and the other people who have gone before us so it really feels like we’re a team because Biathlon is more of an individual event and it’s the only time we compete together,” he said
Flanagan was last to go for the Aussies and he dug deep, producing a stellar performance to catch the athlete in front of him.
“My shooting was pretty bad but that’s because I killed myself skiing trying to catch-up to the Chinese athlete, which I did in the end so overall it was a pretty good day,” he said.
Darcie Morton got the Aussies of a good start, finishing her relay leg in a time of 22 minutes.
Jill Colebourne kept up the pace and finished her relay leg in a time of 21 minutes and 35 seconds.
“It was really fun,” Colebourne said. “We were all out there cheering each other on when we’d finished or even before we had started racing.
“Today was the fastest I’d skied at the Asian Winter Games and I think it was because I knew I had the team behind me, it really made me push for it.
“I’m super happy. As I said after the sprint race I’ve been working on trying to shoot fast and finally I was able to use my new rhythm and hit the targets down.”
Damon Morton had a super race for Australia, stopping the clock on his round in a time of 20 minutes and 54 seconds.
“I think it ended up better than the sprint and I shot better today,” Morton said.
“I think I just felt better today than the other two days, I guess I do like the relay races because I can shoot a bit better, it doesn’t matter because you have the spare.
“Conditions were much nicer and it was quite enjoyable to not be skiing in slow horrible snow,” he said.
Sunday marks the final day of Biathlon competition at the Sapporo 2017 Asian Winter Games with Aussies Colebourne and Flanagan in action in the men’s and women’s mass start events.