Letters to Myself: Juniors to Olympians
What kind of emotions and feelings do athletes have when they stand at the podium; what do they think about in that moment they always dreamed of? Maybe they remember the tough and exhausting training days; the long hours alone or with teammates? In a moment filled with euphoria and joyful emotions, after overcoming difficulties, will the athletes, who reach their big goals, remember where it all started?
Putting pen to paper is the perfect way to remember: when and why these athletes embarked on a biathlon adventure and what forced them to move forward and work hard...
Setting a Big Goal
The just completed Olympic Winter Games, with a newly crowned 22-year-old Olympic Champion Hanna Oeberg, proved that if persistence is the key to success, nothing can prevent that dream from coming true. Taking two Gold medals at the 2016 IBU Youth/Junior World Championships, did Oeberg think that only in two years she would stand atop the Olympic podium? In order to capture this moment of revelation; the moment when young athletes set big goals, several of this year’s junior stars wrote a letter to themselves. Those envelopes will be opened in four years at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, hopefully their first Olympic experience. That will be a time to remember how everything has started and the path that carried them to this most important start.
Elvira Karin Oeberg, Sweden
Elvira Karin Oeberg started on her path to glory last season when she won her first medal, youth individual Bronze. Asked at the time, which of them was better, Hanna or her, she confidently said, with a smile of satisfaction. “Well, she (now Olympic Champion Hanna) did not win any individual medals until her last year!” Having an older sister as a role model and successful example, Elvira Karin Oeberg is now confident that Hanna proved the adage, “Everything is possible…She won at the Olympics and it is huge! She is a great inspiration for me.” Taking her first Gold medal on her 19th birthday, the younger Oeberg sister added two more wins this year at the IBU YJWCH. After her third victory in Otepää, Oeberg decided to write herself an inspirational letter. “I want to remember those good feelings being here! And the goal for me is to be the best biathlete I could be and hopefully, in the future that would mean medals at the Olympics.”
Emilien Claude, France
Despite his youth, the 18-year-old Claude already has many awards from the IBU YJWCH and Junior Cups, including a Gold sprint medal at the 2016 YOG. The younger brother of two World Cup athletes, Florent and Fabien Claude, took medals at the last YJWCH… His results show big potential and he really hopes to have a chance to go to Beijing. He revealed a secret in what he wrote to himself. “I expect that if I read this letter at the 2022 Olympic Games, my dream came true! I just wished myself to give the best and show good results. But more than that, it is important to enjoy the event, have fun and no regrets!”
Emilie Aagheim Kalkenberg, Norway
2016 IBU YJWCH in Cheile Gradistei: youth women sprint second, relay third, 2018 IBU OECH mixed relay third, 2017 Obertilliach IBU Cup 2017 mixed relay first, prove that the 20-year-old Kalkenberg is a rising star for Norway. She wrote in her letter, “When I come to the Olympics and receive the envelope, it would mean that I have done a lot of the right things. The main thing will be to stay healthy and not have any injures. I want to reach some of my goals by that time and to be capable to take a medal.” With a smile, she added, “I’m going to be excited to read this letter in four years, to see if I’m still the same person and have the same thoughts!”
Igor Malinovskii, Russia
The trophy case of this 20-year-old athlete Russian is already full of awards, including the IBU Junior Cup pursuit small crystal globe this season. The winner of 16 medals in the past three seasons (12 of them Gold), Malinovskii became the most titled junior man in the history at the conclusion of this year’s Championships in Otepää! Beyond biathlon, the Russian has another passion: aviation. “When I’m on the track, it seems that biathlon is “my everything, but when I’m flying in the helicopter, there are no other options.” I wrote to myself if I’m reading this letter it means that I am still doing biathlon and aviation waits for me, so it means I have to achieve more heights in biathlon, take all possible medals at the Olympics and preferably Gold.”
Lou Jeanmonnot Laurent, France
The 19-year-old from Fourcatier, France won this year’s IBU Junior Cup Total Score, an important title that tops off her nice haul of medals including 2016 YOG Bronze, IBU YJWCH Gold and Silver, plus second and third places in the IBU Junior Cup. “I wrote the letter not to myself but to my teammates who will manage to make it to the Olympic Games. I do not know who is going to open the envelope but I hope that he or she will be happy to read it, I wrote that I don’t know what is the secret of being an Olympian but the main thing is to enjoy.”
Khrystyna Dmytrenko, Ukraine
Despite her youthful age of 18, Khrystyna Dmytrenko has 2nd and 3rd place finishes in the IBU Junior Cup, plus a Gold medal for the 2016 YOG in Lillehammer. She commented on her letter. “If I receive this envelope back, it means that I’m already at the Olympics. It would mean that one of my biggest wishes and aims has come true. And I wrote to myself not to worry at the moment, to remember for what I did it all, worked hard all those four years, because I’m pretty sure it will be tough. Now I have a lot of motivation and I will work on myself to show good results.”
This group of young athletes is well on its way to Beijing 2022, with medals and trophies as proof of their talent and success. Some if not all of them will surely make it to China. Whether or not they reach their goals and win those medals is deep in the fog and mist of the crystal ball. One thing is assured; everything will become crystal clear about this time…in four years.