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Student athlete works to make sport more sustainable

Jasmine Higgs

Isabella Moon, Year 12 student, Olympus Captain and accomplished international biathlete, will add another title to her name after being selected Sustainability Ambassador to the International Biathlon Union. The role, for which Isabella was chosen from an open-age pool of global applicants, recognises her as an exceptional athlete, positive role model and responsible representative of Australian biathletes.

Isabella said she was proud to have been chosen to promote a positive culture within biathlon.

“Biathlon is an emerging sport in Australia and I’m really happy to be able to provide an Australian perspective in this international forum. I also hope to encourage more Australians to participate in, or follow, the sport,” she said.

As part of her role, Isabella will actively engage with the IBU to share her ideas and opinions about sustainability; represent the IBU by sharing information about events, activities and programs with other athletes and members of the public; and speak at events, seminars and workshops to increase awareness about biathlon and sustainability in sport.

In 2019, Isabella became the Australian Biathlon WU19 Sprint Champion (6km) and WU19 Short Champion (7.5km). She represented Australia at the 2019 World Junior Championships in Slovakia, the 2020 World Junior Championships in Switzerland the 2020 Youth Winter Olympics in Switzerland. She is passionate about the physical and mental challenges of biathlon.

“Biathlon is a unique sport in that it combines two very different skills,” she said.

“The cross-country skiing tests your endurance and fitness and then you need to stop at the shooting range and adjust your focus to perform well at executing a fine motor skill.”

Isabella said it is her love for the biathlon and her concern about the future of the planet that prompted her to apply for the IBU Ambassadorship.

“I am concerned about the sustainability of biathlon in particular and I feel like I have the capacity to make a positive difference in terms of the sport’s impact on the environment,” she said.

“If we as biathletes and biathlon fans collectively make small changes, we can make a difference to the future of the sport and the earth. We know that climate change is making our winters shorter which, for the sport, means less snow and less opportunity to compete. We also need to address other issues like using more sustainable and environmentally-friendly materials during training and competition, including finding alternatives to lead bullets for the shooting event because, when the bullets are left in the snow, they can be harmful to the environment. Biathletes also wax their skis to make them go faster, but this fluorinated wax doesn’t break down and can have negative environmental and health impacts.”

“Another thing I’d like to see is the construction of more biathlon facilities in Australia, where the sport is still emerging. Improving Australian athletes’ access to winter sport facilities could help reduce the need for our athletes to travel overseas frequently to train and compete and this would reduce the incidence of air travel,” Isabella said.

Isabella takes part in her first official engagement as Sustainability Ambassador next week, when she will join an online conference with other ambassadors and IBU officials. Ever-optimistic, Isabella said she isn’t fazed by the Euro-centric start time, which is 12:30am in Sydney.

“It will be a great opportunity to meet all the people involved in the program and get started on making an impact through this platform,” she said.

So how does Isabella manage so many competing priorities, particularly in this important HSC year?

“Meriden’s Olympus Program has really supported me on my sporting journey,” she said.

“My academic and pastoral coaches support me in balancing my academic workload with my sport training and also with maintaining my general wellbeing. When I’m away for competitions, my teachers compile my work and send it to me so I can stay on top of things and the special Olympus training sessions, such as strength and conditioning seminars, have been really helpful for my development as an athlete.”

As Olympus Captain and a senior athlete in the Olympus Program, Isabella provides mentorship to Meriden athletes rising in the ranks of elite sport, a responsibility at which she has excelled.

She is currently preparing for her post-school journey by applying for places in Psychology and Education courses at universities around Australia but her sights are firmly set on the 2022 Winter Olympics, a goal which she looks well on her way to achieving, athletically and in her embodiment of Olympic ideals.

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