Bellingham ready to roll
15 November 2013
CROSS COUNTRY: Australian cross country skier Phillip Bellingham is set to get the ball rolling with the biggest snowdown of his life in a few months.
With team selections set to take place at the end of January, Bellingham has his sights set on making his Olympic debut in Sochi, where he is hoping for a top 40 finish.
For the past month, the 22-year-old has been training in Sweden, where he has been doing a program that involves roller skiing on roads, gym sessions and running for roughly 20 hours a week. With winter now setting in across Scandinavia, Bellingham is planning on heading north to start some on-snow training.
Perhaps the most gruelling sport on the Winter Olympic program, Bellingham describes how he prepares for competition.
“On race day the first thing I do is a morning run, only short (15mins) it gets the body going,” he said.
“Breakfast follows, usually a bit smaller than usual so not to feel bloated and a super strong coffee to pep me up.”
With time to kill before the race, Bellingham opts for activities that relax him such as watching movies and avoids contact with anything or anyone that might make him stressed as he starts to feel the on-set of pre-race nerves.
He then visualises the course like a game of chess, strategising his run to perfection.
“Throughout the day I would go over the race course in my mind, thinking about crucial areas and where I need to make myself work and where I can rest.
“By the time I actually race I would have gone over that course a hundred times in my mind. My warm up takes around 50 mins all up leaving around 5-10mins to get my race skis and go to the gate.”
Bellingham may have a secret weapon in Sochi, with is former teammate, Paul Murray, appointed to the 2014 Team as Athlete Services Manager. With both skiers hailing from the Victorian ski resort of Mt Beauty, Bellingham acknowledges that Murray has played a big role in motivating him to keep skiing.
“[Paul] had a big part in my initial push to go for the 2014 Olympics. He basically told me to stop wasting my time, train hard, have a real dip and basically gave me a bit more belief that I might have what it takes.”
This advice had some impact, when in April this year, Bellingham recorded some strong results in the US Super Tour in Tahoe. He then went on to grab three podium finishes in the domestic season’s Australia New Zealand Cup, including third in the 1km Classic, third in the 10km Classic and second in the 1km Free.
With his nothing to lose approach, Bellingham is tracking well on his way towards Olympic qualification.
“It's been a long and hard road for me just to qualify for the Olympics so just to be there and race will be a huge experience and feeling of achievement.”