Greenland’s Ukaleq Astri Slettemark is far from the circle of favourites at the IBU World Championships Biathlon 2021 in Pokljuka. But the 19-year-old, who dreams of becoming the World Champion, has aroused great interest for this sport in her homeland. And from there, she has received hundreds of encouraging messages over the past two weeks.
“It really seems to me that all the people of Greenland are behind me,” she wrote on Instagram. On the largest island in the world, where the World Championships Biathlon are broadcasted on television for the first time in history, only about 56,000 people live, but it still sounds good.
Former youth World Champion claimed 65th place in 15-km race, while she finished as 77th in sprint at this championships. She went through the mixed zone somehow timidly and surprised. “This is crazy,” the young competitor told a German journalist from SID agency.
“The competition is the same as in the World Cup, but the interest of the fans is much higher,” said the biathlete, which joined World Cup in December in Hochfilzen.
“I am probably the worst competitor to receive such attention,” added the Northerner. The former youth world champion (2018), who lives and trains in Norway, took the performance in Slovenia mainly as learning and gaining experience, writes the website sport.de.
Slettemark comes from a biathlon family, as her father was also a biathlete. He represented Denmark at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, as Greenland is not a member of the International Olympic Committee. Her mother was also involved in biathlon.
The next goal of the young athlete is to perform at the Olympic Games in Beijing in February 2022. She revealed the long-term goal to German television ARD: “I would like to be the best in the world, maybe in 5, 10 or 15 years.”