british aussie -> aussie brit

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bj at a garden party

(text by Ewan McCarthy)

Hold the back page. Hold the front page. Hold all the Queen’s horses. Nothing will rouse the Commonwealth more than this. Australian national team star David Brickhill-Jones has confirmed his intentions to run for Great Britain from next year.

The 24-year-old who was born in Tasmania to an Australian mother and Welsh father has been one of Australia’s top elite orienteers since entering seniors 3 years ago. However, the ambitious Aussie feels that his future in elite orienteering is now better suited to the British game - a superior funded system that is based closer to his current home in Norway.

For the past 3 years BJ has been living in Europe, specifically for orienteering; to train with other top orienteers, and compete in the top competitions. In this time he has achieved notable success including the Silver medal position in the first World Cup Sprint this year (ironically enough in Great Britain). But whilst many other top runners in Europe can rely on strong local backing from their national team’s, for example through training camps, sports science support and a specific commitment to International competitions, BJ has had to do without this. He is a visibly committed athlete, but there have been times when this struggle has left him feeling isolated, disadvantaged, uninspired and, ultimately, a long way from the dream he holds of becoming World Champion. Therefore, when the option is there for him to join the British system while he still has the potential to become World Champion, he has declared himself committed to undertake it.

Asked about the “Daffyd Saeed Shaheen” rumour that it was just for money, BJ played this down. “Although I’m an Aussie and always will be in my heart, my Dad is British and lives in Britain; so I feel, and have, a close connection with Great Britain. The British team is also one I know very well, and I think I will fit into well. Of course money is important; there isn’t a lot of it in our sport. But the way the Brits spend their money is more important to me. They are almost always sending full teams to Internationals, they have regular training camps (they have already had one in the Ukraine for WOC 2007), and the programme leaders are not scared of trying new ideas to try and inspire their athletes. Australia has been very good to me, but I just want to be the best I possibly can.”

It is also the case that BJ isn’t guaranteed to walk straight into every International team for Great Britain. Arguably Britain has better strength in depth than Australia, but for BJ this just provides added motivation that will in turn lead to a rise in his overall game. As he says, “To become World Champion you have to beat everyone”.

All at nopesport.com wish him the best of luck!

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bj performing in london

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