RETRANS from Australian Olympic Committee today:
BIATHLON: Biathlete Alex Almoukov’s patience has been rewarded with the ultimate prize – another set of Olympic rings. Meanwhile teammate Lucy Glanville has emerged from the wilderness to make a surprise appearance in Sochi.
Almoukov- Australia’s only biathlete at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games- was third reserve on the International Biathlon Union’s list of Olympic quotas, and knew his Olympic destiny rested in a reallocation of quota places going his way.
Glanville, 19, had an even more agonising wait to see if seven higher-placed nations would forego their athlete allocations- and they did.
The 2012 Winter Youth Olympian becomes just the third female Australian biathlete to compete at the Olympics and the first since Nagano 1998.
To personally qualify for the Games, athletes must have finished within 20% behind the winner on two occasions across the 2012/13 and 2013/14 seasons.
Glanville achieved her first qualification (15.7%) at the opening IBU Cup in Idre last season. Her second qualifying time did not come until January this year at the IBU Cup 4 in Ridnaun, Italy and it was her final event to clock a qualifying time.
The Sydneysider had a great day at the range in Ridnaun – a stone’s throw from Innsbruck where she competed at the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games in Cross Country Skiing. Glanville hit nine targets out of 10 and combined this with her best skiing of the season to finish 16.7% behind for her second qualifying time.
Glanville highlighted the huge impact that the Youth Olympic Games had on her journey to Sochi.
“One of the best things about the Youth Olympics was just the incredible atmosphere and really learning about how to deal with such a massive event.
“We had such a good Team- the Team bonding was amazing and meeting all of the other international athletes was great- and of course racing at such a high standard was great.
“Now I can look forward to racing at a massive Olympics.”
Australia’s two Biathlon representatives share the same coach – Nick Almoukov. For his son, Alex, Olympic selection for a second time is sweet.
“I was so relieved when I found out I was going,” Alex Almoukov said.
“I knew I had a good chance, but now that it is finalised I am very proud of myself for making it to my second Olympics. It is going to be a wonderful journey and I can’t wait.
“It was definitely pretty nerve-wracking as I was waiting for the news on January 23rd, but I didn’t hear the good news until 4am in the morning of the 24th. Yes, I was a little tired and sleepy- but that is when found out I got the spot!”
Almoukov finished 78th in his best race at the Vancouver Olympics in the 20km Individual. Since then his proudest moment was winning bronze at the 2013 World Universiade in Italy.
“Universiade was definitely a big highlight for me,” Almoukov said.
“I felt so happy to cross the line in third. I wanted an international medal for quite some time now and it finally happened. I had a grin on my face for three days!
“The result showed that when I am in good form I can be very competitive. I will go into Sochi knowing I can perform to a high standard and I will try to do my very best in each event.”
The bronze medal is all-the-more impressive given Almoukov was racing with an Olympic question mark hanging over his head.
“The wait (for confirmation) has not affected my preparation,” he said.
“I am now in Ridnaun, Italy for an altitude camp where I am training hard and consistently. This is my favourite place to train so my preparation has been going really well.”
Still, Almoukov adds: “being confirmed in the Olympic Team will give me more drive and motivation to do everything just right.”
In March last year Almoukov earned his first World Cup points at the Olympic Test Event/World Cup in Sochi. The Russian-born biathlete clearly feels at home at Sochi’s Laura Stadium where he shot clean and finished 33rd in a field of 96 in the 20km Individual event.
“I do enjoy coming to Russia to compete; I can speak the language almost fluently so it is a big advantage getting around,” he says.
Glanville has also been learning Russian in anticipation of making it to the Games.
Taya Conomos | sochi2014.olympics.com.au