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Biathlon young guns go in pursuit of Sapporo glory

24 February 2017

BIATHLON: The Asian Winter Games has provided the Australian team with a number of experiences that they would not usually get throughout the international season.

This was apparent today when Australia’s biathlon contingent were afforded the invaluable opportunity to test themselves in an event that is generally extremely hard to qualify for at major international competitions, the pursuit.  

Usually reserved for those athletes finishing in the top 60 in the sprint event, four young Aussies lined up in the men and women’s events today as they took on Asia’s finest.

Damon Morton secured Australia’s best result when he finished 13th in the men’s event over 12.5km.

Morton started 13th, 2 minutes and 23 seconds behind the leader, in a staggered start that is determined by the finishing times from the 10km Sprint.

Morton, who recently competed at the Biathlon World Championships, finished the event in 43:52.8, just over five minutes behind Japanese winner Mikito Tachizaki. Kazakhstan’s Yan Savitsky claimed silver with Yonggyu Kim of Korea taking home the bronze medal.

“I was hoping to improve at least one place (from 13th) but my ski speed was not as fast as I would have liked it,” said Morton.

“I didn’t lose any positions so that was at least good. My shooting in the prone was good but my shooting broke down a little as I got more tired.

“It’s quite a hard field with almost all the guys in front of me being World Cup eligible so in perspective where I came I should be quite happy with where I placed.”

Having started 6:41 behind the leader, Jeremy Flanagan was lapped midway through the race, thus having to pull out, finishing in 19th in the field of 23.

In the women’s event, Lillehammer 2016 Youth Olympic Games athlete Darcie Morton matched her brother Damon’s result in 14th having been lapped with one shoot to go. Jill Colebourn was lapped after the second of four shoots to finish 19th in the 22 strong field.

The four Aussie athletes will now turn their focus to tomorrow’s mixed relay event.

Matt Bartolo

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