Ballarat's hope in Winter Olympics

FORMER Ballarat university student Phil Bellingham is set to fulfil a dream.

The 22-year-old cross country skier is part of the 60-strong Australian team that will compete at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Bellingham, who has recently completed a Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science at Federation University, will start in five different events at the Games, which began with the opening ceremony early this morning.

He will race in the 15km classical, 30km skiathlon, 50km freestyle mass start, sprint freestyle and team sprint classic.

“The course here is super hard but the snow conditions are hard and fast so it will be a good challenge and I am hoping to qualify for finals,” Bellingham said.

“I had my best ever result in the World Cup in Italy the week before Sochi, qualifying only five seconds behind the winner and only 1.4 seconds outside qualifying for finals. 

“I also had a good race at the under-23 World Championships two days prior.

“I qualified in 16th but unfortunately broke a pole in the finals.”

Bellingham, who is competing at his first Winter Olympics, stayed in Ballarat while studying and will return to graduate later this year.

Winter Olympics, page 149