Road to Lausanne 2020: Campbell Wright “stoked” to realise YOG dream

New Zealand’s 17-year-old biathlete Campbell Wright tells how much he is looking forward to competing in the Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Lausanne 2020.

Picture by IOC / OIS

How excited are you to have been selected for the Winter YOG Lausanne 2020?

“I'm definitely pretty stoked, that's for sure. Definitely happy to be going over there. I’ve been aiming for it for a whole year, so when I was officially named in the team it was a pretty sweet feeling, that's for sure.”

How did you first hear about the YOG?

“I know another biathlete in New Zealand called Louis Jones, and he was unfortunately the wrong age to be able to qualify for the YOG; so I heard about it through him complaining about not being able to go! And then I figured out I was born in the right year so I was like, ‘Oh mate, it's perfect for me.’ He was definitely gutted.”

What has been the reaction from friends and family to you having this opportunity?

“My family is pretty stoked, but my older brother's a road cyclist, so they're pretty used to us going away for sport and stuff like that. My friends are all pretty much the same about it, to be honest. My family will be coming over in January to watch, so that'll be sick.”

What will it mean to you to represent New Zealand at an event like this?

“It will mean quite a lot. Biathlon really isn’t a massive sport in New Zealand, but I feel like it will get a lot more attention if we have someone in the YOG; and especially if I can avoid coming last, it would be a pretty cool feeling, that's for sure!”

What are you hoping to achieve at the Games?

“When it comes to results, I have no idea. I've just got to pray. But hopefully near the front-ish.”

What do you hope to gain from having an experience like this?

“At the moment before races I kind of fret out a bit; and I'm hoping that if I go to something big like this, then all the races after will seem a lot more mellow and chilled out. So just a bit of experience. Get a handle on the whole pre-race nerves. I’m trying not to think about it too much at the moment because it stresses me out a little bit, to be honest. But no, it should be fun.”

What are you most looking forward to about the Games?

“What I'm looking forward to most would probably just be chilling with the whole New Zealand team. And also getting some new clothes!”

Do you have any expectations about what the Games will be like?

“I’ve trained with some Australians who have been to the YOG before, and they say it's just totally unlike what we do usually, at events like the IBU Cups and World Championships. The YOG are just the next level, so it's kind of hard to imagine what it'll be like, but it should be neat. They’ve all said that they really enjoyed just mingling with the athletes in other sports, because in biathlon you're just with other biathletes and that's it. But at the Games, there's loads of other sports too, so I think it will be pretty sick.”

What are your long-term goals? Do you hope to keep competing in biathlon and make a career of it?

“That's the plan at the moment; just keep battling away and see where it goes. My long-term ambition would probably be to compete in the Olympic Winter Games; that would be pretty cool, I reckon.”

Campbell Wright
Picture by Winter Games NZ / New Zealand Olympic Committee

Do you think going to the YOG will help you achieve that?

“Definitely. I think it will give me a lot better feel for the competition in my age group, because at the moment in all the IBU Cups that I race, they're all under-20 and I'm only 17, so I kind of just get wrecked! So it will definitely be sick to just get with my age group and give that a go.”

With having to compete against older rivals, what are some of the achievements that you've had so far that you're really proud of?

“Well, results-wise, my best result would have probably been finishing third at the Alpine Cup, but that was actually in my age group. So in the IBU Cups, probably my best achievement would be passing someone with a beard! That was pretty cool.”