LILLEHAMMER, Feb 12 – retrans from http://www.lillehammer2016.com
She may stand only 150cm tall, but diminutive Australian biathlete Darcie Morton is punching well above her weight and ready for the experience of a lifetime at the Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games.
Asked whether being petite is a disadvantage in such a demanding sport, the 16-year-old said: “I don’t think it makes a difference. You’ve got to be strong in your own way, and fit; that’s the main thing.
“I have a smaller rifle, because I’m small, but I don’t think that will make a difference. In the skiing, maybe the taller girls get more glide than me, because they have longer legs.”
Hailing from the small town of Marlo in East Gippsland, Victoria, Morton trains at Mount Hotham, which is some three hours and 230km by car from home and has Australia’s only biathlon range.
She has been doing biathlon for less than two years, and it’s very much a family affair. “My father (Cameron Morton) competed in biathlon for Australia at the Torino 2006 Winter Olympic Games, and my brother Damon also does biathlon,” Morton said.
“Every June and July we go up to the mountains and stay there and train. And then in October we come overseas and train until around February.”
“The track here is great and so fast. Plus it’s just a really nice stadium.”
After going through her paces at the Birkebeineren Cross Country Stadium in preparation for the start of competition on Sunday (14 February), she was upbeat. “We didn’t shoot today, but the skiing was really good. The track here is great and so fast. Plus it’s just a really nice stadium,” Morton said.
After a good season, the Australian is optimistic about her prospects at Lillehammer 2016, where she will compete in the 6km sprint and the 7.5km pursuit.
“It would be great to get a top-10 finish, or even a top 15 or 20. That would be good for me. It will be really amazing to be racing here in Norway. Just seeing how I compare to other girls my age,” Morton said, speaking at Australia’s team welcome ceremony in Lillehammer.
Her Olympian father is always ready with advice, too: “He gives little bits and pieces of advice everywhere. Like, he told me to take hold of this experience and to make the most of it. He told me to do my best, basically,” Morton said.
So far, the 2015/16 season has been a good one. “I’ve been in Italy for the European season. I’ve been going to school in Italy, learning German and Italian there, and I’ve been going to Livigno and training with the Australian biathlon team and the Livigno team and travelling to different races around Italy, Austria and Switzerland.
“I’ve done a couple of international competitions, like the world juniors in Romania earlier in the season,” Morton said.
Despite her quiet self-assurance in matters biathlon, Morton’s recall about her father’s Olympic experience is hazy. “I don’t remember it at all. I was only really, really little,” she said.
One thing is for sure, Morton will certainly remember her YOG experience in Norway.