Tarjei Bø, a 22-year-old skier and shooter from Stryn in the mountains of western Norway, became his country’s latest world champion on Tuesday. The Nordic world championships may be over in Oslo, but those in the sport of biathlon are still going on in Russia, and Bø won gold.
It was, actually, Bø’s fourth medal of the IBU (International Biathlon Union) World Championships that are underway in Khanty Manslysk in Siberia. Bø started his winning streak late last week, when he was a key part of the Norwegian team of two women and two men who won gold on Thursday in mixed relay. Then Bø went on to win two more bronze medals over the weekend before winning gold again in what’s considered one of the most important biathlon events at the world championships.
They were overshadowed when they started last week by the events going on at Holmenkollen in Oslo, but Bø’s individual gold medal in the 20-kilometer men’s race topped newscasts in Norway on Tuesday.
“It must be allowed to cry now,” Bø told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) when he suddenly was overcome by emotion after skiing the 20 kilometers in 48 minutes, 28.9 seconds with a single penalty on the shooting. He finished, however, 40 seconds ahead of Maxim Maksimov of Russia, enough to give him the gold even though Maksimov had clean shooting, reported the IBU’s website.
Christoph Sumann of Austria won the bronze medal with one penalty and 45.5 seconds behind Bø.
The 20K was long dominated by Norway’s legendary biathlon star Ole Einar Bjørndalen, but he’s now getting close to retirement and placed sixth. Another Norwegian, Emil Hegle Svendsen, placed fourth with two penalties but only 4.2 seconds behind Sumann.
It was another strong showing for the Norwegians, and Bø was thrilled after the event, which played out on a cold but clear evening with almost no wind. “I had firm control over the shooting and tried to maintain speed and my calm,” Bø told NRK. “Today I was boss over myself.”
He said he felt he’d skied his best race ever, even though he had to wait for the results. “I’d heard you’re really not a decent man until you’ve won the 20K,” Bø said with a laugh. “Now I have.”
His teammate Emil Hegle Svendsen said he was impressed by the young Bø’s performance. “He was just fantastic,” Svendsen said. “You just have to take your hat off to him, and be inspired.”