Alex Almoukov
Alex Almoukov Contributed

Aussie happy to be back in Russia

THE Sochi Games will be extra special for Russian-born Australian biathlete Alex Almoukov.

Almoukov, 23, who is competing at his second Winter Olympics, left Russia as a seven-year-old, and, fluent in the language, will be happy to act as translator for his teammates.

And while delighted to be representing his adopted country, he's glad to be somewhere he is familiar with.

"It's definitely exciting to be here in Sochi, back in Russia where my roots are from," Almoukov said.

These Olympics will be a family affair for the biathlete.

"My dad is my coach, so he'll be there on the track and I'll have my mum and my brother cheering for me from the stands," he said.

Fellow biathlete Lucy Glanville is also coached by Nick Almoukov after she made the switch from cross country skiing.

The 19-year-old Sydneysider was surprised to be making her Games debut after seven higher-ranked nations on the qualification list decided not to send competitors. "I wasn't expecting to be here at all. I'm stoked to be here. I'm so excited," she said.

Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman has chosen the athlete who will carry the Australian flag at the opening ceremony but he is not letting on who it is - not even the lucky recipient.

"It's one of the great honours to work out who should carry the flag," he said. "We've got an outstanding team, so it's been a very difficult choice."

Chesterman will announce the flagbearer at the Australian Team Reception tomorrow.

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