North East pair set top-30 goal for Winter Olympics

Lee Jackson and Amanda Lightfoot travel to Sochi next month with top-30 finishes in their sights after being selected for the Winter Olympics

Lee Jackson
Lee Jackson

Lee Jackson and Amanda Lightfoot have set their sights on top-30 finishes after the North East-based pair were added to Great Britain’s Winter Olympic squad.

Jackson made his Olympic debut at Vancouver four years ago, finishing 55th in the 10km sprint, 56th in the 12.5km pursuit and 66th in the 20km individual. That was all about the experience, this time he is determined to make his mark.

Jackson is 33 and before flying to Vancouver he told The Journal biathletes peak between the ages of 30 and 35. “It should be my best chance,” said the man from Stockton when reminded of that. “Mentally and physically I’m feeling as good as I’ve felt.

“Last-time was all about achieving a long-term goal. After Vancouver I set the goal to do my best in Sochi. Now I’ve got three weeks’ quality training to do before I can relax.

“My chances of a medal are very low but if I make the top 30 I will be happy. If I make the top 40 I will be content because that’s the standard I would expect normally. If I do as well as I can, and have a bit of luck, top 20 is possible. It’s a sport a lot of people are doing from a young age and they’re brought up on snow. We tend to do better at the sliding sports.”

Jackson narrowly missed qualification for Turin in 2006, but always believed he would be in Sochi.

“There’s confidence and there’s being cocky,” he said. “I knew if I did my job and trained as I could it was mine to give away. With four years’ experience I knew what I had to do, where I had to take time out and where I had to push. I just did what I needed to be at my best.

“My experience (in Vancouver) won’t count for much because this is a completely different area. At an Olympics, summer or winter, the experience changes every time because of the location.”

Like Jackson, Lightfoot is from an army background. The 26-year-old was born in Coventry, but lives in South Shields.

“When it was announced that I had been selected I was overwhelmed, tears and laughter combined,” she said.

“My goals are to make the top 30 in the world and to compete in the Olympic pursuit race.”

Results in the sprint will decide whether Jackson and Lightfoot compete in the pursuit. The Sochi 2014 Games start on February 7, with the biathlon running from 8-22.

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