PyeongChang, South Korea 2018
To follow the qualification status of our Olympic Shadow Team visit our National Federation News Page. It has details of results, latest points and who's racing at which race. Follow our athletes to cheer them!
Australia has had a proud tradition in Biathlon in the Winter Olympics since 1984 when Andrew Paul represented our Nation in Sarajevo. Have a look at our Olympians Honour Roll and see how well we've performed.
Kerryn Rim earned for Australia it's very best result of 8th out of 68 competitors in the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympic Games. Our best ranked male was Alex Almoukov coming 44th of 87 competitors in 2014 at Sochi. These really are fantastic results for Biathlon in Australian!
From 2006 (Turino) to 2014 (Sochi), our Australian olympians obtained their Olympic participation from the reallocation of places not taken up by higher ranked nations. This process of reallocation of places will now no longer occur.
The IBU (that's the International Biathlon Union, the peak body of the sport internationally) made significant changes to the qualification process for the Olympics after Sochi to improve the standard of athletes at the Games. In brief these are the qualification criteria:
Nations ranked 1 to 20 are permitted 4 starts at each event (for both M & F)
Nations ranked 21 and 22 are permitted 2 starts at each event (for both M & F)
There is 1 place for the host nation (for both M & F)
There are 5 places for the highest ranked athletes whose nations are not within the top 22 nations.
Click on this image below to go directly to the IBU's qualification system for the 2018 Winter Olympics at PyeongChang.
You're wondering of course, where does Australia come in the rank of nations? You can check the ranking here: IBU Nations Cup
The IBU rewards nations who race teams of athletes with the highest points earned for mixed relays. The IBU's reward system is clearly no longer based on individual performers but on team performance.
Biathlon in this country to date has lacked the required depth of skilled biathletes, and the sport has focused on just a handful of athletes. This historical focus on just a couple of individuals and little focus on team competition or team results has caused our nation rank to languish. The current strategy is to turn that around with development programmes addressing athletes from the grassroots through to athletes at all levels of international competition.
The current challenge for us, as with other small nations, aiming to gain a place at the 2018 Olympics, is to compete against the very best in the World and earn one of the coveted 5 quota places. It will not be easy. As of April 2017, the end of the 2016-17 competition season, all of those top 5 athletes (whose nations are not within the top 22 ranked nations) are seasoned, highly ranked competitors on the World Cup Circuit. Despite the challenge, we wish our Shadow Team athletes the very best for qualification to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
Where do we go from here?
Australia's National Federation, Australian Biathlon was at the IBU 2014 Congress where the change to the Olympic selection rules was implemented. We responded immediately with a refocus so as to redirect emphasis to build depth of skills together with support and encouragement of a larger and growing base of young Aussie biathletes. We've implemented a number of "very firsts" since 2015 and we're continuing with our successful and popular programmed events. Check out our Team App for loads of opportunities for training and intensive coaching both in Australia and in Europe.
Biathlon nations know what has to be done to secure Olympic and World Cup starts, and that is to do what the IBU encourages - build teams and the depth of skills needed to earn nation points.
Our National High Performance Coach, Luca Bormolini is helping Australian Biathlon bring professionalism to the sport in Australia.
It may take a few years, but there is no doubt - Australian Biathlon's future is in building a large base of keen youngsters. Biathlon is an endurance sport and athletes usually don't peak till about 28 years of age, so a larger group of skilled athletes will mean an improved national performance for a number of years.
To find out more about Biathlon at the Winter Games go to the offical site.