It’s going to be a green Olympic Games this year, all Vancouver jokes aside. Hay River’s beloved Olympic hopeful, Brendan Green, has officially been dubbed an Olympic athlete.
The release approving his place on the team was stamped Jan. 28, confirming the NWT’s speculation that the 23-year-old Green has what it takes to ski and shoot at the Olympics this year.
“I’m very excited,” said Green on Friday. “Going to the Olympics has been a childhood dream for me, and is something that I’ve worked extremely hard at for a very long time to achieve.”
The news comes as just another wave of reassurance for Green, as he heard of his success before Christmas.
“That was the best Christmas present I could have asked for,” he said.
Hay River South MLA Jane Groenewegen acknowledged Green’s achievements in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday.
“Today I would like to acknowledge a Hay River constituent: a young man, the youngest in a family of six children, who put on skis for the first time when he was three years old and stared in biathlon training when he was nine years old. At the age of 16, this young man set his scope and sights on an Olympic dream, training with great dedication and knocking off achievement after achievement,” said Groenenwegen.
“After these years of training and competing at home and around the world, joining the youngest ever Canadian team for biathlon, for the first time in 26 years that the NWT has sent an athlete to this ultimate level of competition, representing Hay River, the Northwest Territories and Canada, only officially announced today, Brendan Green is going to the 2010 Olympics.”
Green, who is currently finishing off his World Cup races in Italy, said he has been removed from the excitement of the Olympics. For Green, the discreet location is ideal for training.
“Over here, I am able to put a high level of focus into my training and racing, without very many distractions,” he said.
With the past few months being a high-stress period for Green, the news comes as a relief.
“The World Cups in December were the last three that would fall within our Olympic qualification period, so it was obviously a very stressful tour to say the least,” he said. “The men were fighting hard for one of four Olympic spots.”
Green will be the anchor in the men’s relay event, teaming up with Jean-Philippe Le Guellec, Marc-Andre Bedard, and Robin Clegg. Each man races 7.5 km and shoots one prone and one standing round after 2.5 km and 5 km sections of the race before tagging the next team mate. Three extra bullets are allowed for each bout, and each miss after that allowance is penalized by the athlete having to ski an additional 150 m loop before rejoining the course.
Green said the team has good cohesion, as they have been racing and training together for years.
“With being away from home for such long periods of time and always being in countries where we can’t speak the language, we’ve formed a close bond that is not necessarily a characteristic among other teams.”
So far, the team’s best relay result is a 7th-place finish in December 2008. Green said it’s difficult to predict how the team will do at any given time.
“That’s the exciting thing about biathlon – so much can happen over the course of a race, and that’s what makes it the most popular televised winter sport in Europe!”
Green is also uncertain about what to expect for his trip to Vancouver.
“With it being my first Olympics, it will be a totally new experience for me and I’m not 100 percent sure what to expect,” he said. “Competing at the Olympics in your home country is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and the ultimate dream for an athlete… I’m looking forward most to the racing and competing in front of a home crowd, which is something I’ve been dreaming about and training toward for a long time.”
While Green will have a fan club cheering him on at his race in Vancouver, he knows he will have a community in the NWT backing him up from a distance.
“My parents and siblings are my number one fans and have supported me 100 per cent every step of the way,” he said. “The support and encouragement from Hay River and the North has truly been amazing. Community members in Hay River have become directly involved with my training and achievements, and are a part of my dream, which I am extremely grateful for. I am honoured to be representing Hay River at the Olympics and would like to thank the community and all those involved who have supported me through the highs and lows that are inevitable as an athlete.”
This past week, Green has been finishing up his races in France and Italy, after which he will return back to Canmore, Alberta to rest before heading to Vancouver. He will be staying in the Athlete’s Village in Whistler, near the biathlon venue in Callaghan Valley. Green’s big race is on Feb. 26 at 12:30 p.m.