BIATHLON: Australia’s skiing and shooting duo are locked, loaded and ready to go as the countdown to the biggest tournament of their lives is over.
Alex Almoukov gets his second Olympic campaign underway on Saturday, which is the first full day of competition at the Sochi Games.
The Russian born 23-year-old makes his second Winter Games appearance after competing in Vancouver while Lucy Glanville is one of 43Australians that will make their debut in Sochi.
Almoukov and Glanville will compete in the Individual and Sprint events while also looking to make the field for the Pursuit and Mass Start.
The pair, who are both coached by Alex’s dad Nick, finalised their preparations at a training camp in Italy and are hoping to exceed expectations in Sochi.
“I definitely want to improve on my performances at my last Olympics,” said Almoukov.
“I wasn’t feeling the best when I competed in Vancouver but now I am in really good shape.
“I have also improved a lot over the past four years and have had a really good build up so I am feeling good for some much better results.”
Almoukov claimed 78th and 87th place finishes in the Individual and Sprint events on his Olympic debut and is looking to improve on that at the Laura Biathlon Centre and earn qualification in the Pursuit event.
“I am planning to qualify for the Pursuit but I know it will not be easy as I will need to finish in the top 60 in the Sprint. I am really hoping for a top 40 or 50 finish though.
“The track is really good and I feel great when I am out there. I will have pre-race training Friday and then compete on Saturday.”
It appeared Almoukov was going to be Australia’s only competitor in the competition before Glanville snuck into the field after seven quota spots were handed back in by other nations.
“I wanted to compete for as long as I can remember,” Glanville said.
“I believed that I could make it to Sochi after the Youth Winter Olympic Games.
“It was close though as I only just got my qualification right before closing date and then had to wait for the quotas to be handed back.”
After arriving in the early hours of Monday morning Glanville acknowledged that being at her first Olympic Games took a little while to settle in.
“When I first got into the village it was very overwhelming being around such elite athletes but it slowly began to sink in and I am now in the right mind set to race.”
Luckily for Glanville she is sharing a room with three-time cross country Winter Olympian Esther Bottomley who has helped the 19-year-old with her mental preparation for her events.
“I have never shared a room with Esther but she is really cool. She is someone I looked up to as an elite athlete and it is great being able to room with her.
“She has been really supportive and let me know how things are different at an Olympic Games and what to expect.”
Almoukov kicks off his competition in the 10km Sprint on Saturday evening (local time) while Glanville will compete in the 7.5km Sprint on Sunday evening (local time).
For the full Biathlon schedule go to: http://sochi2014.olympics.com.au/news/preview-aussie-biathletes-locked-and-loaded
Matt Bartolo | sochi2014.olympics.com.au
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