Amanda’s ‘psyched up’ for Sochi success

SKI STAR ... South Tynesides Amanda Lightfoot still has Olympic glory in her sights in Sochi.

SKI STAR ... South Tynesides Amanda Lightfoot still has Olympic glory in her sights in Sochi.

SOUTH Tyneside’s winter wonder Amanda Lightfoot may not have had the best of Winter Olympic debuts yesterday – but she says she is ‘psyched’ up to have one more shot at Sochi success.

The 27-year-old became the first British female athlete to compete in the gruelling biathlon event for eight years when she contested the 7.5km sprint in Russia.

The biathlon combines cross country skiing with shooting – testing competitors’ mental and physical abilities under extreme pressure.

The former St Wilfrid’s RC School pupil needed a top 60 finish to book her place in tomorrow’s 10km pursuit, but crossed the line 75th.

But she won’t be packing up her skis and rifle just yet, as she will be tackling the 15km individual race on Friday.

She said: “I will have a bit more of a build-up towards the individual. I will have a bit more training leading up to it and hopefully it will go really well.

“I am psyched, actually; I can’t wait for another race.”

Amanda said starting the race behind Olympic gold medallist and eight-time world champion Tora Berger didn’t affect her.

She said: “It was better that she was in front of me than behind me. Everyone is fully focussed at the start and it is just you and yourself getting ready to start the race.

“There is generally no conversation, a couple of ‘good lucks’ here and there but that is generally it.” As well as taking on the 7.5km distance, the racers had to shoot at 10 targets with a penalty loop of 150m added for every miss.

Amanda missed three targets after going into her first-ever Winter Olympics on the back of a best-ever 49th place in a World Cup event in Oberhof in Germany five weeks ago.

She had set her sights on a top 30 finish but the three missed shots left her adrift of a vital top 60 placing.

She finished in a time of 24 minutes and 48.9 seconds.

Amanda, whose father William and mother Maureen live in South Shields, only took up the sport while serving with the army in Iraq.

She joined the army’s Adjutant General Corps as a clerk at the age of 16.

She has been training for her Olympic debut by competing in events all over Europe in front of crowds of up to 60,000.

Despite the setback in the 7.5km sprint, she says her quest for glory has been an unforgettable adventure.

After taking part in the opening ceremony on Friday, she said: “It was absolutely amazing coming in. It was overwhelming.

“I’ve never been in front of such a big crowd. That was one of the proudest moments of my life. I was speechless.”

* Amanda is back in action in the 15km race – where competitors shoot four times at twenty targets – at 2pm on Friday.

* You can follow the event on BBC 1 by pressing the red button, with updates on our website www.shieldsgazette.com





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