It’s nearly down to the wire for Brendan Green to return to the Winter Olympic games. Now, two things need to come together – training and funding.
The two go hand-in-hand, according to the biathlete from Hay River, who has spent the last year recovering from an injury.
Green – who competed for Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver – needs money to train, but intensive schedules for both races and practice keep him too busy to focus on anything but making it to the upcoming games in Sochi, Russia, in February.
“It’s been a super-stressful year,” he told The Hub. “There’s been a lot of pressure on training and it’s a challenge to find the funding to make ends meet for the year.”
As a result, Green and his partner and fellow top biathlete Rosanna Crawford turned to Pursuit, a crowd-source fundraising website for athletes.
Green said a teammate had previously done the same to good effect and suggested the couple give it a try.
“The goal is for $13,000, but that’s money already spent,” he said. “We’re aiming to cover the base fee for the national team for Rosanna and I.”
With about 40 days left of fundraising, the couple has raised over $17,000, with two supporters donating in excess of $5,000 each. Green said one of the advantages of Pursuit is the ability for sponsors to not only receive perks associated with dollar amounts for donations, but also to stay connected with the athletes they support.
“It’s spread largely on social media,” he explained, adding he was surprised by how far it had reached in such a short time. “We’ve got support coming in from all over the world.”
But the money is only one side of the equation. Actually getting a spot on Canada’s Olympic team is the other.
“It’s been a rough road so far,” Green said. “The qualifiers start two winters before the games, so those two years are super important. Unfortunately, I had to miss out on last season for my injury.”
Just before he got hurt, however, Green was ranked high enough that – with some luck and perseverance – he can still qualify for the upcoming games with only half a season left. Most recently in Austria, he must return to Canmore, Alta., for training before heading over to Scandinavia in November.
“I’m not making it easy on myself,” he said. “I have to fight my way back into the World Cup, and, if that doesn’t happen, I’ll be at the domestic trials in Canmore just before Christmas. If everything goes according to plan, it should be attainable.”
Despite his at-times arduous journey, Green remains an inspiration to young Hay River athletes, particularly those involved in biathlon.
“Even though only some of the oldest kids can remember training with him, they all know who he is and hear all about him,” said biathlon coach Chuck Lirette. “He’s the role model for everyone in the club in Hay River.”
In 2010, a ‘Green Day’ was declared in Hay River as residents rallied downtown in a show of support, and students sat before televisions at schools to find out how the local Olympian had performed.
In Vancouver, he was part of a relay team that placed 10th – a very respectable finish for Canadian biathletes.
Lirette said many local biathletes are motivated this year by the upcoming Arctic Winter Games, but also look up to Green, who himself competed in them years ago.
Now hopefully heading to the biggest games of all for the second time, Green thanked everyone who supported him throughout his career.
“As winter approaches, I’m looking forward to getting back on the skis and training,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to representing Canada and the North.”
— Sarah Ladik