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Adam Runnalls: Bow Valley's Beijing Bound Athletes

“One of the best things is to be in the present moment."

Adam Runnalls, biathlon, top 25 world cup threat

Heart pounding and adrenaline pumping, Adam Runnalls skis into the shooting range. 

He checks the wind flags, readies his rifle and aims. This is not a moment for self-talk. He has trained so much that he does not give it much thought. It is mostly just a reaction now.

Runnalls, 23, is making his Olympic debut in Beijing. He is one of eight Canadian athletes competing in biathlon at the 2022 Winter Games.

Olympians have little time to slow down or be distracted. Runnalls credits his extensive training for allowing him to focus on the target in a high-intensity state.

“We do a lot of work with a mental performance coach,” said Runnalls. “One of the best things is to be in the present moment. When you’re in the race, there’s not much you can think about that’s going to help you at that point. The training is what you’ve done. The race just shows the skills you’ve trained.”

He made it into the world cup within 10 years of starting the sport, first competing at the highest international level in 2020.

“Your first experience on the world cup is always super exciting, very distracting and overwhelming,” said Runnalls, who admits to experiencing imposter syndrome. 

“Because you’ve been watching these people for forever on TV, and now, you’re standing beside them on the same shooting range, you don’t feel like you belong there.”

Runnalls says he became more comfortable after realizing that a race is a race, regardless of who he is competing against. Once the race starts, it still comes down to the same targets and skiing the course.

“I should consider myself a competitor because I would consider people who finish behind me a competitor,” he said. “I need to put myself in the eyes of someone else.”

Runnalls is owning the best results in his career this season. He recalls a race before Christmas at the IBU World Cup Biathlon Annecy Le Grand Bornand, where he came in 31st place out of 110 people, hit all his targets in the sprint and “skied OK.”

“My dream from a really young kid was to be an alpine skier in the Olympics,” said Runnalls, whose dad took him skiing for the first time before his second birthday. “But then, I just never really got into alpine [competitively].”

Runnalls found biathlon at the age of 11 and committed to a different Olympic dream. He says it was a good fit for him. Even though he used to watch a lot of skiing with his dad, who was an alpine coach for many years, his parents supported the switch.

“Since that day, I’ve been on the path,” said Runnalls.

He says his family put a lot of time and energy into helping him achieve his Olympic dream, including driving to races across Alberta and British Columbia for five years.

“For my family, it’ll be amazing,” said Runnalls, knowing his family will be cheering him on at the Olympics. “I owe a lot my success to them.”

The people closest to Runnalls know how much time he has put in and how important it is for him to compete in Beijing. 

“It’ll be really important for basically everyone in my life,” he said. “Because of their support, it’s become important to them [too]. I think it’s basically the biggest thing that could happen for everyone in my life.”

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