Campbell Wright: Kiwi in America
Walk into a room with Campbell Wright and you’re struck first by his Kiwi accent, his lighthearted approach to life and his confidence. The junior world champion was born in New Zealand to American parents, one of four boys who grew up in Rotorua where mom put them in sports to burn off energy. A later move to the South Island put Wright onto snow. Today, he’s forging a career as a biathlete, hopscotching the globe with his new U.S. Biathlon teammates.
It’s official now, Wright’s American passport has been recognized by both the IBU and IOC. And he’ll be flying the stars and stripes when the BMW IBU World Cup begins in November.
In this fun episode of Heartbeat, Wright talks about growing up in New Zealand, skiing with the so-called Refugee Team, finding biathlon and making his pathway as a training partner with the U.S. Biathlon Team and now a member himself. Underlying his career today were a number of key individuals or mentors, and relationships he forged that taught him about sport and life.
Here’s a little sampling …
Tell us about New Zealand!
Well, for anyone who doesn't know, New Zealand is a pretty, pretty sweet place. Like very nice outdoors and mountains and so on and so forth. So it's pretty hard not to be into the outdoors. So I have a family of three brothers, so there's four boys. And of course mum wanted us to be tired at the end of the day. So she would send us out, go tire ourselves out. And whether that was biking or running or playing rugby or all of the other things that I don't know the great outdoors brings. But so always was sporty coming from a sporty family.
What's a typical day at the Soldier Hollow camp for you?
Wake up. Might have a coffee, go train and come back. And we have a lovely, lovely caterer who cooks us an amazing lunch and then generally a nap and then afternoon training and then a little chill out, then dinner, also by the lovely caterer, andrinse and repeat for three weeks.
How did you get into skiing in New Zealand?
The skiing part was just quite by coincidence when we moved down to the South Island. So obviously when you move to a new town, you introduce yourself to the neighbors and they had kids who were our age, and the person who started up the cross-country skiing field in New Zealand started up the Snow Farm. She was actually the one who took me skiing for the first time. She (Mary Lee) took me up to Snow Farm for the first time, and she also took me to my first international race in Australia. Just me and her went over to the Joey Hoppet.
Did you start off right away in biathlon?
No, no, I was, I was pretty, pretty cross country specific. I actually didn't really like biathlon all that much, even when I was like 14, it was just like, I'm a skier, I like skiing, I'm good at skiing. Biathlon didn't come until a bit later, probably till I turned like 15 is probably when I started shooting and actually taking it a bit more seriously.
What’s on your playlist?
What tunes are on my playlist? Yeah, well, my playlist is pretty sad boy oriented at the moment. I don't really know why, but what tunes are on my playlist? Bit of Joji and 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton. That's not really that sad, but I don't know – Max played it in the van and I liked it, so I had my playlist.