Hugh Pritchard, Biathlete

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Hugh Pritchard

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Diary April-May 2000
April 5

Got a real talking-to from the flatmate's g/f Cassandra, who will not let me hide from the truth any more: that if I want to achieve anything in skiing or biathlon then I will have to make it happen, rather than just dreaming about it.

On the whole, I think it would be worth trying to go further. The standard I have reached on minimal training and coaching is a British B team level, and if I can cope with more training then presumably I could do a lot better. I often think about the kayaking which I used to be so good at, and wonder how much better I could have been if I had followed up the breakthrough I made just after stopping training; it would be a shame to do the same with the skiing and biathlon. So I wrote to Fritz Fischer in Ruhpolding to ask about joining his training group, and to Graeme Ferguson about BBU selection.

My father was kind enough to remark that it is better to regret the things one has done than the things one has not done.

April 16-22

The British Olympic Association's Winter sports training camp in Austria (or British Airways Olympic Futures Camp, to give the sponsor its due). I was coach to the cross-country team, as no-one else would do it. As my knees were too sore to ski, I stood by the track waving my video camera, until one day I left it on the roof of the car... I hope it was insured!

The snow at the biathlon centre at Hochfilzen (1,000m above sea level) was OK early if it had frozen overnight. The day the press, TV cameras and Minister for Sport came, it poured with rain. We got wet waiting for them as we wanted to look busy when they arrived, and they were an hour late. As soon as they had gone we packed up.

The track at Dienten (1,300m) was beautiful on a cold morning, for skate or klistery classic. We saw a couple of Austrian team suits up there, and envied their access to snow for such a long season.

But the really great benefit of this camp was not the skiing. The camp was designed to mimic an Olympics, in that all the various teams live together and share meals and facilities; and the support of phsiotherapists, physiologists, psychologists, dieticians, etc, etc. Inspiration was also heavily programmed in, and effectively. We attended a lot of workshops and learned a few new things, and how to apply and use a lot of things that we had an inkling of but had not ouselves used, particularly on the mental and motivational side. It will be interesting applying these and helping other people to apply them.

I will post abstracts of what we learned here in due course.

April 29

Frustrating days of upper-body training as I want to rest my knees and be confident that they are really OK before I start to use them again. It has its bonuses: I am doing plenty of strength training, which I normally neglect as I do not much like it; also it does not take as long as the traditional endurance work; and I have joined Shepperton Slalom Canoe Club, which I have meant to do for years, and look forward to squeezing into my old boat for some training.

Today I did a great hour's double-poling on the roller-skis at Eelmoor, which is the London club's Saturday afternoon training venue. Very dull and flat, but it does enable you to focus on one thing at a time - such as gut-busting. Forgot that I need to wear gloves with my classic poles as they have rubber handles, so I now have a couple of blisters.

Trying to get an answer out of the British Biathlon Union is very unrewarding . I wrote to Graeme Ferguson to ask him to expand on the conversation we had in Ruhpolding (when he asked if I would like to go onto the European Cup circuit, as a self-funding team member). No reply, so I copied it to all the appropriate Board members I could think of. Still no news. Goal setting is very difficult when you don't know what is possible.

8 May To the British Olympic Medical Centre to get my knees looked at. Apparently my ankles are very odd, and I have another appointment to get a video analysis of my running on a treadmill, orthotics made if necessary, and another trip to the physio to get some exercises prescribed to correct my weird leg angles.
12 May

Amazing news from the BBU: selection. Time to focus, plan, concentrate.

Nice kayak session last night: in my slalom boat, went for an hour's steady paddle, finishing with some figure-8s and sprints. I had not realised that Elmbridge Canoe Club, one of the top sprint/marathon clubs, is just across the river from the Shepperton slalom club: it was great to see about 30 good paddlers out training.