The Snow Farm’s young gun, Lake Hawea biathlete Campbell Wright (19), is set to become just the second ever biathlete to represent New Zealand at the Winter Olympic Games.
The youngest athlete on the IBU World Cup circuit, Wright was selected last week after career best performances this month in Europe.
“Being named to the team is massive for me. It’s been a big effort . . . [and] to be able to represent New Zealand at the Winter Olympic Games is pretty special and I can’t wait to get there. I’m not aiming for any result in particular, I’m just going to race to my potential and see what happens,” Wright said.
The former Mount Aspiring College pupil has been named New Zealand’s top cross country skier of the year every year since 2016.
He was the New Zealand team flagbearer at the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games, where he finished fourth in the 7.5km sprint and sixth in the 12.5km event.
Biathlon New Zealand chairman Tim David, of Wanaka, said Wright was an amazing athlete and his first Games would be a tough test.
“We’ve watched Campbell grow on the tracks of Snow Farm and at the rifle range of Wanaka Biathlon Club and cannot be more excited by his emergence this year as a true international talent,” Mr David said.
Wright is coached by Italian Luca Bormolini.
Late last year, Wright’s father Scott said United States biathlon team head coach Armin Auchentaller had said he would be keen for the US to choose Wright, should the teenager not be selected for New Zealand.
Wright is a Kiwi, but will be eligible for the US because his parents Scott and Alison are joint US and New Zealand citizens.
In Beijing, Wright will contest the 10km men’s sprint event, and has received permission to start in the 20km men’s individual, the 12.5km men’s pursuit and the 15km men’s mass start.
Biathletes combine a cross country ski race with shooting rounds.
Wright began cross country skiing as a youngster and began competing in biathlon in 2017.
“I’m stronger at the skiing so I’m working hard to improve my shooting. The trick is not to overcook yourself before you get to the range. You need to chill and get your heart rate down before you start trying to hit the targets,” he said.
NZOC CEO Kereyn Smith said Wright had shown perseverance, grit and determination to be selected and had a huge future in front of him.
Most of the 15 athletes in the New Zealand Winter Olympics team live in the Queenstown Lakes district.
Canadian-Kiwi Sarah Murphy first represented New Zealand at the Winter Olympics in the biathlon. She competed in the 7.5km sprint and the 15km individual event at Vancouver 2010.