Biathlon veteran does it again

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Ole Einar Bjørndalen won his 95th World Cup victory in biathlon skiing on Wednesday, crushing his competitors to clinch his first spot on the top of the World Cup podium in more than three years. His much younger rivals were mightily impressed.

The "King of Biathlon," Norway's Ole Einar Bjørndalen, won his first World Cup victory in more than three years in Sweden on Wednesday, at an age of 41. PHOTO: IBU

The “King of Biathlon,” Norway’s Ole Einar Bjørndalen, won his first World Cup victory in more than three years in Sweden on Wednesday, at an age of 41. PHOTO: IBU

Bjørndalen, age 41, was promptly re-crowned as the “King of Biathlon” after skiing and shooting over a 20-kilometer course in Östersund, Sweden, in just 50 minutes, 14.5 seconds. Not only did he ski fast, he “shot clean” with no penalties. Simon Schempp of German placed third and Russian Alexey Volkov was third.

Norway’s Emil Hegle Svendsen tied for fourth place with Quentin Fillon Maillet of France. Bjørndalen outclassed them all.

“This race means a lot to me,” Bjørndalen said at a press conference when it was all over. “I never would have thought I would be here at the start today, after what I went through last summer. I have never in my life been in such bad shape.”

He was referring to illness that ruined much of his pre-season training. The biathlon star has refused to retire, and became the oldest athlete ever to win in World Cup competition when he took his last victory at Kontiolahti in Finland on February 12, 2012. He also won gold at the Olympics last year, and now he’s done it again.

“It was the best I could have done,” Bjørndalen said in his victory interview in Östersund. “Everything functioned, so I’m very satisfied today.” He claimed he doesn’t have many secrets behind his success, just a “strong sense of motivation.”

Bjørndalen admitted that he’d been prepared to be cut from Norway’s national team because of his poor pre-season condition. “Now I’m sitting here today, and this is huge,” he said.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund