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Campbell Riverite returns from challenging Estonian biathlon adventure

Gavin Johnston competed in four events at the IBU Youth and Junior World Championships
Biathlete Gavin Johnston represented Canada at Junior World Championships in Estonia. Submitted photo by Parker Munroe.

He may not have had any outstanding results, but Gavin Johnston represented Canada and Campbell River proudly in Estonia during the International Biathlon Union (IBU) Youth and Junior World Championships.

“This year’s Championships had some added excitement to it as it was the biggest ever with a total of 480 athletes from 39 countries registered,” says Johnston. “This was my first time in Estonia, and also my first time up in the Baltics. We were in a small town called Otepaa, which for only having a population of about 2,000 people, had quite an impressive Nordic Center.”

Johnston competed in the Junior Men (or under 23) category and raced in four events: a 4 x 7.5-kilometre mixed relay, a 15-kilometre Individual, a 10-kilometre sprint and a 4.75-kilometre Junior men relay. Johnston finished all his races in the middle of the pack.

“Overall, I had better performances in my relays than in my individual races, with one having a poor shooting day, and the other a crash on my last lap while going 45 kilometres per hour on a downhill corner,” he says.

Even though he didn’t have any top results, he had a great time racing and learned more about himself, like his preparation and the recovery needed during international events.

“It’s very challenging racing at such a high level; you can never expect yourself to always have a perfect race,” he says.

Johnston says he doesn’t have anything in particular to improve on, however, he does plan on working on his physical and mental performances, as well as everything in between.

This was his fourth time representing Canada. Earlier this season, Johnston featured in the Junior IBU Cup in Slovenia and Italy. He also competed in the Junior IBU Cup in Italy and Austria and the IBU Youth and Junior World Cup in Kazakhstan last season.

Even though he has raced across Canada for several years, Johnston says international racing competitions are at a higher level. He enjoys the spirit and camaraderie the athletes share, despite any language barriers between Johnston and competitors from different nations.

Johnston will finish this year’s biathlon season in the Canadian National Championships in Hinton, Alta. in the last week of March. He will also be competing in the Snow to Surf race as the Nordic skier on Team Banzai. Snow to Surf is a race combining Nordic skiing, trail running, mountain biking, paddling/kayaking, and road cycling in the Comox Valley.

“After a few weeks of rest at home in Campbell River, I’ll be returning to Vernon and the Sovereign Lake Nordic Development Center to start the new training season on May 1,” he says.