A South Tyneside athlete is right on track to take the new season by storm.
Olympic biathlete Amanda Lightfoot, from South Shields, has spent all summer training and is now ready to represent Great Britain on Sunday in the season’s first World Cup in Sweden.
The 28-year-old, who competed in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, is feeling hopeful after gaining two top 10 places at the summer World Championships, which were held in Romania in August.
The sport sees competitors cross-country skiing and shooting a rifle at targets.
She said: “Achieving two top 10 results at the Summer World Championships proved that I am on the right track and I am ready for more.
“I need to give a lot of the credit for this to my coach Wolfgang Pichler, who started working with me in 2014.
I am ready for moreAmanda Lightfoot
“These results are the proof of my improvement under his supervision and I still know that I have more space for further improvements.”
Amanda joined the army’s Adjutant General Corps as a clerk at the age of 16 and decided to give the winter sport a try while she was serving in, of all places, Iraq.
After showing a talent, the British Army has had her on full-time release ever since.
However, there’s been a lot of recent frustration for Amanda as the loss of a main sponsor means the British Biathlon Union (BBU) doesn’t have the funds to enter athletes in all of this season’s competitions.
The former St Wilfrid’s RC School pupil said: “The BBU won’t be able to afford to send its athletes to the World Cup races in Canada, the US and to Russia.
“As an athlete this is a hard decision for me to take because I train all year to compete with the best of the world and now I cannot attend three out of the nine World Cups due to funding shortage.
“This means watching the competitions on TV instead of being there and competing myself.”
On Sunday, Amanda will be competing in the single mixed relay – a team event which will see one male and one female from each nation competing over 6km for women and 7.5km for men, with each having four shoots hitting 20 targets, for each missed shot there is a 75-metre penalty loop.
She then has three more races including an individual 15km, a sprint of 7.5km and a pursuit of 10km.
And Amanda is hopeful that a new sponsor might be found.
She added: “We need financial support because otherwise it is just a matter of time till we have to stop competing. I am asking everyone who reads this if they can offer us any kind of sponsorship to get in touch.
“We are a small biathlon nation and have to stay humble. Yet, this doesn’t mean that we can’t aim for more.”
Watch Amanda in action on Sunday by tuning into Eurosport at 1.45pm and track her journey by following her on Twitter @amandabiathlon1 or on Facebook at Amanda Lightfoot Biathlete-Fan Page.
To sponsor the team, email firstname.lastname@example.org.