BIATHLON: RETRANS from Australian Olympic Committee: Having secured two of the nation’s strongest results in recent years last weekend, Jill Colebourn is looking to continue her momentum at this week’s IBU Cup in Arber, Germany.
Colebourn finished 77th and 73rd in the two 7.5km Sprint events in the Brezno, Slovakia as she strives towards becoming one of the nation’s finest ever biathletes.
“I was incredibly happy with my results from both races because my time behind the winner was the best by an Australian woman in a IBU Cup or Winter Olympic Games Sprint race in recent years,” said the 22-year-old who balances her Olympic aspirations with her studies in Mechatonic Engineering and Commerce at the University of Sydney.
“This is an amazing record for me to hold but I also achieved personal best IBU points in both races – plus my shooting accuracy was great, hitting 9/10 shots in both races as well.
“I achieved Olympic qualifying points in both competitions which was a huge milestone for me.”
“I knew coming into this season that I would be capable of this but I thought it would be very difficult and only possible if I had a perfect race with no shooting mistakes.
“However, it was awesome to see that I’m able to make the qualification with 1 mistake and to back up my PB race on Saturday with an even better race on the Sunday.”
While qualification for biathlon at PyeongChang will be difficult due to tougher criteria than previous Games, Colebourn can remain eligible for a berth at the 2018 Winter Games with another strong performance at this week’s IBU Cup.
“I’m really excited for the races in Germany to see what more I’m capable of but I’m a bit nervous because now I’m feeling the pressure to back up my great races from last weekend with some even better ones.
“I need one more qualifying time to get onto the Biathlon ‘waiting list’ for the Olympics and this weekend is my last chance.”
While she is more of a fan of the Sprint races, Colebourn is confident she can build on last week’s form in the Individual 15km event on Thursday in Arber before again getting a chance at the 7.5km Sprint on Saturday.
“In the past, Individuals were always my worst races because it’s twice the distance (15km) of the usual Sprint but I’m much stronger and fitter now than I was.
“Shooting is also much more important in Individual races as we shoot 20 shots compared to ten shots in the Sprint and for each miss one minute is added to our final time. This is huge penalty when one second could be the difference between a qualifying time or not.”
If Colebourn finishes close enough to the time of the winner she can acquire her third qualifying time and thus have a chance of representing Australia in PyeongChang.
That result would see her become eligible for one of six wildcards handed out by the International Biathlon Union for the Games.
This is a tougher route than Australian athletes have had to endure than previous Games and if PyeongChang is not to be for Colebourn the determined young gun is no doubt one watch in years to come.
Colebourn will line up in the 15km Individual at 11:30pm AEDT on Thursday before tackling the 7.5km Sprint at 11pm on Saturday.