Retrans from Australian Olympic Committee: BIATHLON: It is unusual to see the Australian flag near the top of the leaderboard in an Olympic sport dominated by nations where people ski to commute. However that is what Darcie Morton did at the Youth Olympic Games in the 6km biathlon sprint on Sunday.
The 16-year-old only missed one shot at the range and skied strongly to be sitting in third place when she crossed the finish line. This brought a big smile to her face and the pain in the legs seemed to fade away.
“I’m really happy with my result. I finished the race and saw that I was third and it blew my mind I just couldn’t believe it,” Morton said.
However, out of the 49 person field she was skier number 10, so her eventual placing was 16th. To be only 20 seconds off the top 10 though is still very impressive against the world’s best juniors.
Morton has been based in Italy training for several months and studying by distance education with the hard work and preparation paying off.
“Being in Europe for so long and training with Luca, the other Italians and Australians at Lavinio (Italy) has been a really good prep.”
Australian Youth Coach Luca Bormolini was very pleased with the result and full of praise for Morton.
“Darcie did a very great race and everyone should be proud of her,” Bormolini said. “Darcie’s too easy to coach. She’s perfect. She doesn’t complain, she always trains hard and I think if she continues like this the future is in her hands.”
She was cheered on today but her mum and aunty, while her Olympian father Cameron (Torino 2006) was back home in Australia working. Her brother Damon is also a top biathlete.
The last time an Australian woman did reach the top 10 of an Olympic event was in fact at Lillehammer in 1994 when Kerryn Rim finished 8th in the individual event, Australia’s best ever result.
Sportsmanship the highlight of Mahon’s international debut
It was a competition placing that Darcie Morton’s teammate, Jethro Mahon, may care to forget. But he will not forget the act of kindness from a fellow biathlete and the magnitude of competing at the Youth Olympic Games.
Not long after the first shoot – one-third of the way into the 7.5km race – Mahon had lost his balance and ended up breaking the binding in his ski, which could have ended his race.
“I was falling and I miss-timed it and ended up putting my pole in between my skis and I tripped over it,” Mahon explained.
“I broke my binding on the top and luckily an Estonian biathlete came and gave me a spare ski which was really nice of them.
“It’s the ultimate gesture of sportsmanship. I still can’t believe what he did. It was a fully race prepared ski as well which is quite time consuming to do.”
It was still no easy ride for the 17-year-old from Melbourne in his first major international competition.
“It was a different length ski and a different brand of ski so it was really awkward at first and it was hard on my morale as well. After my fall and I realised me ski was broken I thought what do I do? Do I give up or not? It’s good that I finished the race but it wasn’t a good race I must say”.
Tomorrow is another day and Mahon will contest the Pursuit event on Monday in Lillehammer.
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