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WRAP: Cross Country course tests the world's best

24 February 2014

CROSS COUNTRY: Australia’s largest ever Cross Country team was put the test on one of the world’s most challenging courses in Sochi.

Brother and Sister duo Callum and Aimee Watson joined fellow Olympic debutant Phil Bellingham and Olympic veteran Esther Bottomley on the slushy Sochi slopes.

Callum Watson kicked off Australia’s campaign in the Skiathlon event where athletes compete in both the Free and Classic techniques. Watson finished 60th on debut before going on to finish 85th in the Sprint with teammate Bellingham claiming 55th.

The duo then joined forces to finish 12th in their semi-final of the Team Sprint but were unlucky as Bellingham was taken out early on.

Australia’s first ever three-time female Cross Country Winter Olympian in Bottomley missed the finals of the Sprint after missing the top 30 by just over 10 seconds. She finished 56th in that event and went on to record a 61st place finish in the 10km Classic.

Aimee Watson, who came into the Olympic Games with a broken toe, also featured in the Sprint where she finished just behind her teammate in 63rd. She then dug deep to finish the grueling 30km Mass Start in 54th but was a favourite amongst the home fans.

For Australia’s first sibling duo to compete in the same sport at a Winter Games, the Watson’s were happy to have some extra support in the crowd.

“It is pretty exciting to have my parents in the stand,” Aimee said. 

“To see two of us at the Olympics at the same time is brilliant. I guess they killed two birds with one stone.”

The Aussie contingent will now look to he future and a big showing in PyeongChang.

“Both Phil and I have done well here and give it another four years we will be a lot older and wiser and hopefully go even better,” Callum said.

“I don’t know what lies between now and then but I’m hoping I can stay injury-free and then come into the next Games in a better position than I was here,” Aimee added.

For Marit Bjoergen and her Norwegians it was another extremely successful Olympic Games as the 33-year-old was a part of three of her nation’s five gold medals. Her success in Sochi makes her the most successful female Winter Olympian of all-time with a total of six gold, three silver and one bronze medal.

Fellow Norwegians Maiken Falla and Ola Hattestad won the Men’s and Women’s Sprint events while Dario Cologna won Switzerland two gold medals. Sweden won both of the Relay gold medals while it was a successful final day for the Russian as they claimed a clean sweep in the Men’s 50km Mass Start.

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