Sedbergh Duo Selected into British Biathlon Development Squad

Two Sedbergh School sportswomen have progressed their way through the British Biathlon Union (BBU) Talent ID Programme and have recently been announced as part of the BBU Development Squad, with their sights now set on the Winter Youth Olympic Games next year in South Korea.

Elif (Year 10) and Isabelle (Year 12) started their Biathlon journey last summer, attending separate Talent ID Camps in Wales and Scotland. During the training camp in Scotland, which Isabelle attended, the athletes were joined by six-time Winter Olympian Mike Dixon.

Isabelle Talent Id Scotland Shooting
Isabelle takes aim at the Talent ID Camp in Scotland | Credit: BBU

Elif and Isabelle continued to work hard throughout 2022, and during October Half Term, they joined up with 24 fellow future athletes from British Biathlon and British Nordic Ski in the state-of-the-art snow tunnel training facility in Oberhof, Germany. Before the end of the year, the girls embarked on their second international training trip with BBU, under the guidance of Development Team Coach, Scott Nixon, for a week’s training camp in Norway.

 As well as the high level of skill and technique needed to be a successful biathlete, the foundation for the sport is endurance, with Olympic biathletes burning up to 1000 calories an hour and also having to control their heart rates when it comes to shooting, the training camp put a big emphasis on diet, rest and recovery of the sport.

Germany Ht Future Skiiers
BBU Training Camp at the impressive snow tunnel in Oberhof | Credit: BBU

As Lent Term began at Sedbergh School, Elif and Isabelle were readying themselves for their biggest test yet – heading over to Ruhpolding, Germany to the British Championships to complete a 10km Nordic Ski event against other athletes on the programme, ultimately, to find out whether they would be selected into the BBU Development Squad. It was only a matter of weeks later that they both received the fantastic news, by Elizabeth Winfield CEO (BBU Secretary General), that they had successfully been selected into the Development Squad.

Following a great training and racing period with us [BBU] we have been really impressed with your progress and commitment to training. We see real potential from your performances and look forward to developing this further with you.” Said Elizabeth Winfield CEO, in her letter to both Elif and Isabelle.

Isabelle & Elif in Ruhpolding at British Championships
Isabelle & Elif in Ruhpolding at British Championships

The girls now have further training camps to look forward to this year in Italy, Germany and Norway with the final camp in Austria at the end of the year, where the British selection races will take place.

All of the travelling is a little nerve-racking, so it’s great that we can travel together.” Said Elif

Although in different school years, Elif & Isabelle live alongside each other in Robertson House, one of our three girls’ boarding houses. In between their academic studies, the pair are working hard on their physical fitness and wellbeing under the expert guidance of Strength & Conditioning Coach and former Great Britain Bobsleigh athlete, Mr Toward.

This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our parents.” Isabelle said. “We are both so grateful.”

When British Biathlon launched their talent ID search last summer, it was immediately obvious from the selection criteria that this was something our girls could be perfect for.” Said Miss Leach, Assistant Director of Sport at Sedbergh School.

It is just amazing to have watched the girls progress from filling in a simple questionnaire to now having made the squad, in the space of around six months. Elif and Isabelle epitomise the physical and mental toughness of Sedbergh sportswomen and I am just delighted for them.”

Follow Sedbergh: