The TV camera locked on to Brendan Green as he prepared to explode into his leg of the men’s 4 x 7.5 km race in Whistler, BC. It was a tense moment for Green, as well as for 3,600 people in a remote community 2000 km north of him.
Crowds wearing green flocked into the theatre, the hospital, and school gymnasiums to witness firsthand Hay River’s pride and joy during his first Olympic race. Hype in Hay River had been building for months, including a pep rally, signs, media announcements, and even car decals encouraging the athlete in his big race.
Marc Andre strode into the final lap, and Green set off on the biggest race of his life so far. Canada had been in first place at the beginning of the race, but by the time Green’s turn came around, he had some ground to make up.
Unfortunately, just as Green was going into his second round of shooting, TSN switched coverage over to speed skating. Folks at the theatre searched desperately for another channel that would deliver the story everyone had been waiting for months to see, but efforts were in vain. Text messages spread across town minutes later, announcing that Team Canada had placed 10th in the race.
“It was not an amazing race for me,” said Green over the phone on Sunday once he was back in Vancouver. “My results were stronger in Europe, and I was hoping I would hold that form in the Olympics. But it was a decent day, and the team performed well. 10th is a strong finish.”
Green said the conditions were a distraction for him – the wet snow slowed the skiing and reduced visibility on the range.
“We were pretty happy to have it over with,” said Green.
Green said knowing the North was behind him all the way was a great feeling.
“The home crowd is amazing – the support has been unreal,” he said. “To know everyone had my support was a great feeling.”
Green said the most stressful part of the Olympics was the moments leading up to his race.
“It definitely stressed me out more than most other races,” he said. “There was so much hype and talk and expectations leading up to the race. But once I got on the course I was able to focus just like any other race.”
As for Green’s future, he is beginning the Canadian Championships this month with races in Alberta this week. These results will determine his standings in next year’s World Cup races in Norway and Russia.
“Most other athletes are done for the season,” Green said. But the work is never over for a biathlete. Green gets a short break in April, and then is back into training again in May.
“Biathlon is such a technical sport, there are constantly things to work on. It’s a never ending process that I’m sure will last me a whole career.”
Green is considering trying out for the Olympics in 2014 in Russia.
“I’ll take it year by year,” he said. “If I’m healthy and if I’m still performing well, I haven’t accomplished all I want to yet. I’m still hungry for more.”