Hartsville native races the 7.5-kilometre biathlon on Saturday in Sochi, Russia
Well, it's here.
The 2014 Paralympics, that is, and Hartsville native Mark Arendz is confident heading into in his second Games, this time in Sochi, Russia
The 23-year-old Paralympic nordic skier is gunning to better his two seventh-place finishes in 2010 in B.C.
This time, Arendz goes into the Games as the reigning World Cup biathlon champion and the world champ in the 7.5 km biathlon sprint. He also won gold and silver at the recent IPC World Cup in Canmore, Alta.
Arendz landed in Sochi on Tuesday and starts competition Saturday in the biathlon short (7.5K). He races again March 11 in the biathlon middle (12.5K) and March 12 in the cross-country sprint. Then races in the biathlon long (15K) on March 14, the cross-country team relay March 15 before finishing with the cross-country 10K March 16.
The Guardian caught up with Arendz via e-mail from his home and training centre in Canmore for a Q&A about the Paralympics which run March 8 to 16.
Guardian - How do you think you've improved since the 2010 Paralympics?
Mark Arendz - Every aspect of training, racing and focus has improved over the last four years. A lot about performance and success simply comes from your experiences in racing and competing. Fitness-wise, this is an endurance sport and every year of positive training makes you better, and I have four good solid years of training behind me. Most importantly I’ve learned how to race. I’m still racing, but I can narrow my focus to what matters for a result in the end.
Guardian - Where do you think you stand in each of the disciplines you'll be competing in?
Arendz - My shooting was a strength four years ago, but I wasn’t really quite ready to shoot well in that pressure cooker of a situation. Now I’m very use to shooting under pressure and still call on my shooting as a strength. The difference is I don’t need to rely on it solely to be successful. The skiing has come a very long way in four years. I now am able to ski with the best in the world as well as shoot with them.
Guardian - Who are the front-runners in your races, besides yourself?
Arendz - There are a lot of strong competitors in my field. A number of the guys can put it together and win a race. The Russians will be extremely tough to beat at home, the Ukrainians are a force to rival the Russians, then there are the individuals from Norway and France. A deep field, but that makes the races all the more exciting.
Guardian - What would constitute a successful Games for you?
Arendz - For me, I want three perfect biathlon races. After each race if I can say that that was everything I could do, that will be a success for me. I will go into the Games focused on controlling what I can control. Focusing in on the things that will contribute to my own perfect race.