Biathlete Wright named NZ's last Olympian for Winter Games

Source: 1News

Campbell Wright has had his dream of representing New Zealand on sport's biggest stage realised with the 19-year-old selected for the Winter Olympics next month.

Wright is set to become only New Zealand's second biathlete at the Winter Olympics after the New Zealand Olympic Committee [NZOC] confirmed his place on Friday.

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 as well.

“Being named to the team is massive for me. It’s been a big effort and it’s not just a win for me but a win for the whole New Zealand biathlon community,” Wright said.

“For myself, 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's selection comes after the Lake Hawea athlete found himself in hot demand last month with Team USA looking to name him in their team for Beijing as the NZOC had yet to do so for New Zealand.

His coach Luca Bormolini told 1News last month that despite multiple calls from the US to "come to the dark side", there was only one colour he wanted to wear on the global stage - black.

Wright was born in Rotorua and raised in Wānaka, but holds dual citizenship through his parents.

“You have the most proud Kiwi in the world who refuses and says 'no I’m a true Kiwi, and I’ll represent my country cause it’s what I am',” Bormolini said.

“In the entire world there is not another Campbell Wright."

Wright's selection comes after he took up biathlon in 2017 having previously taken up cross country skiing from a young age.

“I liked cross country skiing and so my coach Luca basically just said why don’t you have a go at biathlon and it went from there," Wright said.

"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."

Campbell Wright competes during the Individual Men at the IBU World Cup Biathlon Antholz

Wright will enter the Games off the back of career best form. Competing against 116 athletes last week at the Ruhpolding World Cup in Germany, the New Zealander was in 7th place with just two-kilometres to go, unfortunately a fall cost him valuable time and dropped him back to a creditable 25th.

Overnight he placed 15th out of 107 athletes at the Antholz World Cup in Italy.

Wright was the New Zealand Team flag bearer at the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games, with the event providing him a performance pathway to the Winter Olympic Games. Aged just 17 at the event and competing against a 99-strong field he placed fourth in the 7.5km sprint event and 6th in the 12.5km event.

Campbell is the final athlete selected to the New Zealand Team for Beijing, taking the total team size to 15.