South Tyneside Olympian Amanda Lightfoot is on the slope to success as she warms up for one of the biggest moments of her career.
Amanda is preparing to take part in next month’s Winter Olympics after being selected as Team GB’s only biathlete for the event.
The South Shields sporting star will be competing at her second Olympics in a row, having been in Sochi, Russia, four years ago.
This year the event will take her to Pyeongchang, South Korea, where the 30-year-old hopes to break new ground.
Former St Wilfrid’s RC Primary School pupil Amanda has been preparing in Ostersund, Sweden, over recent days.
She insists not qualifying for the Olympics was ‘never an option’.
Not qualifying for the Olympics was never an option in my mindAmanda Lightfoot
Amanda said: “The rollercoaster of a journey that the last four years have been, and the thousands of hours of training it has taken, have made qualifying for these Olympics extra special.
“I’m looking to get the best result for a British female in biathlon ever.
“Not qualifying for the Olympics was never an option in my mind.”
Amanda joined the army’s Adjutant General Corps as a clerk at the age of 16 and decided to give the biathlon – which sees competitors combine cross-country skiing and rifle shooting – a try while she was serving in Iraq.
Since then, she has been on full-time release from the army so that she is able to pursue her sporting dream.
Amanda feels she has made big strides in both disciplines of the biathlon over the last four years.
She added: “I have given it my all over the last four years, pushing myself to new limits in training.
“A massive focus has been put into my shooting over the last two years with my shooting coach and trainer Ilario Maddalin.
“This, combined with my head coach Wolfgang Pichler – who is, in my opinion, the best in the world and probably the most brutal coach I’ve ever worked with – made a great team for me to improve over this Olympic cycle.
“I’m over the moon to now go to Pyeongchang and represent not only my country but Team GB and the British Army, and make them all proud.”
In the 2014 Winter Olympics, Amanda finished 71st in the 15km individual event, following her 75th place in the 7.5km sprint, which was her Olympic debut.
Since that competition, she has continued to represent Great Britain on the international stage.