6. 1. 2013

Behind the track: Sarah Murphy “Biathlon is my destiny”

She is THE ONE…
…THE ONE biathlete from New Zealand racing in the World Cup circuit. THE ONE who participated in Olympic Games 2010. Well, BIG RESPECT to her.
RESPECT for the passion - It could be easier to do anything else but her heart beats only for biathlon.
RESPECT for the courage – Travelling and preparing alone for all competitions must be really difficult, imagine you can count only with help and support from other teams and friends. But no matter what problems may she faces during the season, she never gives up.
I think, every young person should read this. Her life, her person could be the real idol for them. And everyone could be her own supporter. I am proud I made this exclusive interview. Go on New Zealand´s biathlon!  Go on Sarah Murphy!

What was the moment you decided to become biathlete?
     "I think destiny chose biathlon for me as I was the first baby born in the Bow valley during the 1988 Olympic, and my first outing as a baby was to the biathlon Olympic event in Canmore. I think the moment I realized I was a biathlete was when I went to the Olympics in Vancouver. That is when I really felt like I had achieved something in the sport."

Biathlete from New Zealand… it sounds a little bit “exotic”. It must be very difficult to race for that country - I mean problems with sponsoring, funding etc.  So why did you choose New Zealand?
     "I raced for Canada at the World Junior Championships in Martell in 2007, and then raced World Junior Championships for New Zealand in Canmore in 2009. I sometimes wonder how different my life would be if I had continued racing for Canada, but I am sure I would not have had the crazy experiences I have had with traveling the world alone, starting at 19 years old, with a rifle. I am very proud to race for New Zealand, and I love seeing the sport grow there. I don’t have enough money for a coach to travel with me, and I think this is what makes it really difficult. Going to the team captains meetings is not usually something I want to do the night before the race, but at least I provide some sort of hilarious entertainment for all the big nations there. Sponsors are difficult to find for me, even for ARS sport Management Company. But, life is really not so bad, and I would not change it at this moment for anything else."

What about the popularity of biathlon in New Zealand?
     "Biathlon is growing every year. We now have a 12 lane range to compliment our amazing cross-country ski tracks. There is currently a biathlon group from NZL in Europe right now, and we will be having another couple camps in NZL this coming winter (Southern Hemisphere winter, Northern Hemisphere summer)." 

Do you think biathlon would be more popular there if you achieve a medal from the big biathlon event?
     "I think it would definitely help my profile, but there is only one spot you can ski and shoot in New Zealand, and it is a 45 minute drive from the closest town, so I am not sure. I think it would be good for the sport development and maybe in the long run people would see a New Zealand women’s relay on the start line!"

You were the first New Zealand´s biathlete at the Olympics. Tell us about your feelings, emotions… Did you enjoy it?
     "This was absolutely amazing. I found out I was going to the 2010 Olympics 5 days before I was meant to arrive. It did not seem real. My mother and father were both volunteering at the biathlon event, so when I crossed the finish line they were right there. Also, Canada has been very supportive of my nation switch, so everyone was behind me cheering me on as the first Kiwi out there."

Were many people cheering you on and supporting you just because of the fact you represented not so typical biathlon country?
     "I think no matter where you go, people will always be rooting for the little nations."

Do you find this is happening also this season when you representing New Zealand in the World Cup?
     "I think people are always surprised to see an athlete from the New Zealand on the start line. I have gotten nothing but support from the fans and other teams, as many know what a struggle it is to be alone on the World Cup circuit."

Olympic Games in Sochi 2014. What does it mean to you? Will you focus more on this event than the others?
     "These are the games that have always been my big goal. 2010 was such a surprise, but 2014 has really been my focus. I don't think I have ever put this much thought and dedication into anything. Going to these games would really...I'm not sure...I guess it is something I cannot write on paper."

Why did you choose Switzerland for living and training?
     "The Gasparin sisters were looking for someone to move to Engadin valley to train with them and their coach, Vegard Bitnes. As I am alone and have the freedom to choose where I go, and since I have been training alone since I was 19 years old, I decided to go for it."

How is the training with the Switzerland team?
     "Training with the girls this summer was great. We had a lot of fun times, nothing was ever too serious, and it really tested me physically and mentally as a full-time athlete. Right now my plans for the next year are not very solid, but I will be heading back to New Zealand to compete in the 100% Pure New Zealand winter Games."

Sarah really enjoyed training with Gasparin sister

Are you satisfied with your performance this season? I know you changed your rifle. Is there anything more you want to improve?
     "I will be honest- this season has started off very poorly. I had to get a new barrel as mine was very old and was not shooting straight in cold weather anymore. I went for a sprint barrel, where as my old barrel was a thicker and heavier one, so now I need to get used to this new weight. It was very disappointing to go into the season feeling so good, to have it turn so disastrous so quickly. I just hope there are no more surprises on the equipment failure front. I am lucky to have support from Salomon for my skis, Norma for my ammunition, and Slovenia waxing my skis."

Which World Cup place or stadium is your favorite?
     "My favorite would have to be...hmm...I think Antholz. It is so beautiful and the weather is often perfect. I love Ruhpolding because of the vibe of the crowd, and I love Khanty because the tracks remind me of Canada (except for there is a lot more fur clad individuals lining the race track)."

What biathlon success do you appreciate most?
     "Mine? My biggest success is being the first biathlete for NZL at an Olympics. I am so proud to be a role model for younger kids, and love watching the sport grow. Result wise? Well, I have never been the type of athlete to say I want to get gold, so all the races I appreciate the most were ones where I had a good race personally. For instance Ruhpolding World Champs Individual - I thought I was going to retire after this race, and I was just loving every part of being out there."

Who is your best friend among all biathletes? Do you have any?
     "Well, you will always know when Elisa Gasparin and I are out on the tracks as it sounds like monkeys are skiing around. We are a little crazy together. Rosanna Crawford and I grew up together and she is one of the people who got me into biathlon. And if I need a man’s opinion, I can always count on Petr (Dokl), Klemen (Bauer), and Jacko (J.Fak)."

Is your family travelling with you during the World Cup?
     "Nope. I guess I have made a new family for myself on the World Cup. Slovenia does my skis, Great Britain zeroes me, Salomon helps with the skis, Swix with the poles, and any country that happens to be driving in the direction I am going with transportation."

You travel around the world and you say on your blog your home is anywhere and everywhere. But what is your most favorite place?
     "My most favorite place is probably Queenstown, New Zealand. It is the most amazing place in the world and I urge everyone to one day come down for a cup of tea and a visit."

Is there any place you want to visit once in your life?
     "I really have the traveling bug, so I want to go everywhere, but I think Thailand and Nepal are potentially next on my list."

What do you like to do when your skis and rifle are taking rest?
     "I love ski touring, downhill skiing and climbing mountains. If I wasn't a biathlete, I would be working towards becoming a ski tour guide, so every chance I get to be heading out into the hills, I am out there."

Sarah loves the mountains

Visit the official blog of Sarah Murphy:

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