Mariann Vestbøstad Marthinsen won Norway’s first gold medal at the Winter Paralympics in Sochi on Wednesday in the seated cross country ski sprint. Marthinsen triumphed in a close finish to cross the line just 0.1 of a second ahead of Tatyana McFadden from the USA.
Marthinsen won all of the day’s heats, as well as the final sprint. “This is an indescribable feeling,” the 29-year-old from Fitjar outside Bergen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “I can’t comprehend what has happened. It’s unreal and fantastic! I will live this for the rest of my life.”
The gold is Marthinsen’s first Winter Paralympic gold medal, topping her fourth place finish in the 12 kilometre cross country ski on Sunday. “It’s been six years of a lot of work and prioritizing the sport above all else,” she said. “This tastes great. I must thank all of the supporters and those who’ve followed me from home. This means a lot.”
Marthinsen, who lost her right leg in an accident when she was two, also competes as a swimmer in the Summer Paralympics and won bronze in Beijing in 2008. She has competed in three summer and two winter games, and was named Disabled Athlete of the Year in 2005.
Germany’s Andrea Eskau took bronze behind Marthinsen and McFadden. Norway’s other entrant in the seated cross country sprint, Birgit Skarstein, was knocked out in the semi final round. The gold follows Norway’s first medal in Sochi on Tuesday, when Nils-Erik Ulset won silver in the 12.5 kilometre biathlon.