STOCKHOLM, March 30 (Xinhua) — With less than one year to go until the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, and preparations are underway, chief coach Johannes Lukas told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.
With 31 podiums in the World Cup and six medals in the World Championships, Swedish biathletes had their best-ever season. In 2018, Swedish biathletes left Pyeongchang with two Olympic golds and two silvers. In the light of recent successes, Swedish biathletes are looking to improve on that tally next year.
“It has been a fantastic season but feels like we can take it one step further despite having developed tremendously this season. The athletes are still young and can take another step, so it will be interesting.”
However, Lukas does not want to set a specific goal for the Beijing Winter Olympics.
“Of course, we want to win Olympic medals especially in the light of how the athletes performed this season. However, you can have a good competition, but still finish fourth, so you have to have a top day to win medals. I’m happy as long as we win medals and have a good Olympic Games.”
Lukas, a German who joined the Swedish national team at age 21 in 2015 as a trainee while studying sports science at the Technical University of Munich, had a few explanations about the key to the recent success.
“In the last couple of years, we have changed part of the training program and focused on details. There has also been a lot of training at home and fewer travel days, so the athletes have had a good focus on recovery. We also have a very good group feeling and a group strength in the team that makes them push each other, it gives an effect in the whole team not only with individual athletes.”
At an altitude of 1,665 meters, Lukas said the Kuyangshu Nordic and Biathlon Center will be challenging.
“For next year, the focus is on altitude training, so we acclimatize properly. We will also focus on more stability on the shooting range to improve even more.”
The thought of going to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games is inspiring, Lukas said.
“The whole world will watch for two weeks and athletes representing many sports are in the same place trying to top their form, so the competitions will probably be exciting.”
Norway is generally seen as having the best chance in biathlon at the Beijing Winter Olympics, but Lukas said several other countries could perform well.
“There is of course France and Belarus, especially on the women’s side. One must also always be aware of the Germans. They are good and know how to perform.”
Beijing 2022 host team China also aims at the medals, having recruited biathlon power couple Ole Einar Bjorndalen and Darya Domracheva. With 12 Olympic titles between them, they have been tasked with coaching the Chinese biathlon team ahead of the Olympic Games. Enditem