Winter Olympics: Disappointing start for NZ athletes

New Zealand's first athletes in action at the Winter Olympics put in subdued performances in Vancouver today.

Speed skater Shane Dobbin was a disappointing 17th out of 28 in the men's 5000m event at the Richmond Olympic Oval, clocking a time well outside his New Zealand record.

Dobbin, who was regarded as a top-10 possibility, completed his 12-1/2 laps in six minutes 33.38 seconds, nearly 19sec behind Dutch winner Sven Kramer.

The 30-year-old from Auckland, who is a four-time inline skating champion and is ranked 13th on speed skating World Cup points, fell behind Canadian Lucas Makowsky in his heat and the gap between the pair grew steadily bigger.

Meanwhile, New Zealand's first biathlon competitor at an Olympics, Sarah Murphy, placed 82nd out of 88 competitors in the women's 7.5km sprint event.

Her time of 23min 49.7sec was nearly 4min behind Slovakian winner Anastazia Kusmina.

Murphy, 21, was never in contention to challenge the leaders in the multi-discipline event that mixes shooting and cross country skiing, finding herself back in the field through her early split times.

She had to complete three 150m penalty loops for missing three shots from 50m with her .22 calibre rifle.

While the Games are now over for Dobbin, Murphy has three more biathlon events on her schedule next week.

A third New Zealander was to compete later today - short track speed skater Black Skjellerup in the 1500m event.

- NZPA

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