Campbell Wright is set to become just the second ever biathlete to represent New Zealand at the Winter Olympic Games, following his selection to the New Zealand team for Beijing 2022.
The 19-year-old Lake Hawea athlete 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.
Wright, who spent his childhood in Rotorua, is currently in Italy where he's training and competing, and says a huge amount of work has gone into his selection.
"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," said Wright.
"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."
Biathlon is an exciting sport combining the disciplines of cross-country skiing and shooting. The event sees athletes cross country skiing race through a trail whose distance is divided into shooting rounds. Depending on the event, missed shots result in additional time or distance being added to the athlete's total. The sport is hugely popular in the Northern Hemisphere and is largely European dominated.
Wright began cross country skiing at a young age and started competing in biathlon in 2017.
"I liked cross country skiing and so my coach Luca Boromilili basically just said why don't you have a go at biathlon and it went from there.
"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."
Wright spends the European winters training in Italy and competing around Europe. When in New Zealand he trains at Snow Farm and says he gets a real buzz from the sport.
"I love it, it's definitely unique and I get a pretty awesome feeling when I'm out there doing it."
He has been named Snow Sports New Zealand Cross Country Skier of the Year every year since 2016 and is the youngest athlete on the IBU World Cup circuit.
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 seventh place with just two kilometres to go, but 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 flagbearer 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 7.5K sprint event and 6th in the 12.5K event.
Biathlon New Zealand chairman Tim David says Wright is an amazing athlete.
"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," said David.
"His first Games will be a tough test, but I've no doubt he'll represent New Zealand in an exemplary fashion."
NZOC CEO Kereyn Smith extended her congratulations to Wright.
"For Campbell to be selected for these Games is a huge achievement," said Smith.
"He has shown perseverance, grit and determination and we are excited to see what he can do at Beijing. He has a huge future in front of him and we wish him all the best."
Wright is coached by Luca Boromilili.
Campbell is the final athlete selected to the New Zealand Team for Beijing. Taking the total team size to 15.
New Zealand team:
Ben Barclay (freestyle skiing)
Anja Barugh (freestyle skiing)
Finn Bilous (freestyle skiing)
Tiarn Collins (snowboarding)
Margaux Hackett (freestyle skiing)
Ben Harrington (freestyle skiing)
Gustav Legnavsky (freestyle skiing)
Chloe McMillan (freestyle skiing)
Peter Michael (speed skating)
Nico Porteous (freestyle skiing)
Miguel Porteous (freestyle skiing)
Alice Robinson (alpine skiing)
Zoi Sadowski-Synnott (snowboarding)
Cool Wakushima (snowboarding)
Campbell Wright (biathlon)