YOG biathletes strive to strike balance between sport and studies
LAUSANNE, Jan 12 – It takes a complete athlete to compete in biathlon, a mix of endurance, composure and pinpoint accuracy. Becoming a complete adult is also the aim for biathletes at the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games as they balance their sport and studies.
When he is not lying prone in the snow firing off rounds at targets 50 metres away, 16-year-old Angelos Antoniadis (GRE) is in high school in his hometown of Florina pursuing his dream of getting into medical school.
“I have very high standards for myself,” he said. “I want to be a good athlete and at the same time a good student and hopefully a doctor in the future. I’m in high school now but I must get into a good university.”
Lausanne 2020 features more than 1,800 young men and women who have spent years training to become world-class junior athletes, all the while planning for their futures outside of sport.
According to Antoniadis, the only way to succeed is to embrace the challenge.
“I think the secret is to love what you do and to always make time for things that interest you,” said Antoniadis, who finished 92nd in the 12.5km individual event on Saturday.
“Travelling to Italy and Slovenia for training with my national team, studying hard sciences, and playing video games like League of Legends on my computer - this makes my life very interesting.”
Evolving from its roots in survival skills practised in the forests of Scandinavia, modern-day biathlon puts athletes to the test by combining the lung-bursting action of cross-country skiing with intervals of precision marksmanship.
Etienne Bordes (USA) stretches the definition of an all-rounder even further. Not only is he a biathlete, he is a state championship-winning cross-country runner in California. He is also an aspiring engineer.
“Right now I’m pretty into engineering, I’m struggling with balancing school and sport but I know that I’ve always ended up pretty well in the end,” he said.
Olympic Channel Video: biathlon-sport-explainer-lausanne-2020
Bordes, 17, said support from his school has been key to fulfilling his Olympic dream and educational goals.
“Ask your teachers to give you a little bit of extra time on work because that has really been what has helped me the most,” he said. “My chemistry teacher is watching the race right now. You can’t make up for the time that you lost in sport but you can make up for the time that you lose in school.”
Bordes, who finished 76th on Saturday, said he finds inspiration from his former classmate, two-time United States national Alpine ski champion AJ Hurt.
“She’s been out at the World Cup for Alpine skiing and she managed to get through high school with all As so that’s pretty incredible,” he said.
Meanwhile, 17-year-old biathlete Konstantina Charalampidou (GRE) takes pride in her ability to compete at a high level while still keeping on her career path to become a molecular genetic biologist.
“It is rare. In my school I am one of only five who are studying that and also competing in a sport,” said Charalampidou, who finished 90th in the women’s 10km individual event on Saturday. “It is hard because you have to find a subject that you love to do but also find the time to complete your programme.”
Charalampidou offers some encouragement for any young people struggling with the choice between sporting and academic interests.
“I’m doing training, I work and also go to school, so I don’t have much free time,’’ she said.
“If you love all of that, you can do it.”
By IOC Young Reporters for Olympic Information Service