Biathlon Canada announced the team for the 2021 Youth and Junior Biathlon World Championships to be held Feb.24 to Mar. 7, 2021 in Obertilliach, Austria. Included on the team is former Caledonia Nordic Ski Club biathlete, Liam Connon.
“It’s staggering to think that I will be on the range with the world’s best youth biathletes and it’s an incredible privilege to be a member of the Canadian team,” said Liam.
Liam currently trains with the Nordic Performance Development Center (“NPDC”) in Quebec and is coached by three-time biathlon Olympian, Jean-Philippe Le Guellec. The NPDC program is structured to promote training at the athlete’s home club with distance coaching. This program has allowed Liam to train as a high-performance biathlete in Prince George, while studying engineering at the University of Northern British Columbia (“UNBC”). Liam is also the 2020 recipient of the Nordic Sport Leadership Award, made possible by CNSC and UNBC.
“I am so fortunate to ski and shoot at a world-class biathlon facility while being coached by my dad in Prince George and by JP Le Guellec, who I think is the best Canadian male biathlete to date,” he said. “UNBC and the ski club are only 15 minutes from my home, so I can do more in less time.”
Over the past 11 months, the COVID-19 pandemic has made training challenging and it’s made competing within Canada, almost impossible. The Youth and Junior National Trials were scheduled for the first week of February at CNSC; however, the COVID-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of the trials.
Liam said he was “looking forward to competing on home turf because it’s a world-class facility with volunteers who make it such an amazing place to compete” but he feels the cancellation was “the right decision, given the circumstances”. In September 2020, Connon was selected by Biathlon Canada to represent Canada at the World University Games in January 2021 in Lucerne, Switzerland; however, those Games were postponed to December 2021 due to the Covid 19 pandemic.
When Liam leaves the start gate in Obertilliach, he will face the toughest competition since he started biathlon eight year ago, at age 10. He anticipates a field of approximately 100 biathletes from over 30 countries and sees this event as a critical step in his development.
“To be competitive at higher levels in biathlon, means competing in Europe,” he said. “I am so honoured to represent Canada, but I also represent British Columbia, my sponsors, Prince George, NPDC, CNSC, the sport’s funding partners, all of my coaches and every volunteer who has lifted a hand to build the sport in Canada. The word grateful just doesn’t cover it. I will leave nothing in the tank.”
Biathlon is a winter Olympic sport combining .22 calibre small-bore rifle marksmanship and free-technique cross country skiing. The sport is governed internationally by the International Biathlon Union. Biathlon Canada is the governing body for biathlon in Canada and it is the National Sports Organization. Biathlon BC is the Provincial Sports Organization for the province of British Columbia.