By Philip O’Connor
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) – Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Boe put in a blistering skiing performance to claim victory in the men’s Olympic 20km individual biathlon event on Thursday.
The 24-year-old, shooting with a golden gun, shrugged off poor form in his earlier events at the Games to finish 5.5 seconds ahead of silver medalist Jakov Fak of Slovenia. Dominik Landertinger of Austria claimed the bronze.
“It’s the biggest day of my life, I’m lucky to experience it,” an elated Boe told Eurosport.
“This is special, gold is the biggest dream,” he said before bursting into tears.
Martin Fourcade of France blew his chance of becoming the first French athlete to win four Olympic titles when he missed his final two shots.
At the 10.6km mark the Frenchman had opened a lead of 16.3 seconds over Germany’s Arnd Peiffer and by the time he arrived at the fourth shoot he had almost two minutes to spare.
But having skied and shot superbly until that point, Fourcade missed his last two shots, incurring two minutes in penalties and giving himself a mountain to climb to get back in contention for the gold.
Boe went out ninth of the 86 starters and an early miss left him with plenty of work to do, but his powerful skiing clawed back the time lost due to his errant shooting and he could even afford another late miss.
With the temperature dropping steadily through the evening, the Norwegian had to endure a long wait at the finish line as his rivals fell away.
Sweden’s Sebastian Samuelsson, who won a silver medal in Monday’s pursuit, put in another strong performance and was in with a shout for bronze, but he was edged out of the medals when Fak put in a powerful spurt after the final shoot.
Fak and Landertinger shot clean on the night but Boe’s superior skiing took him clear.
“I had a great day, quite simply. It was a bit of luck, but also skill,” Boe said.
“I had an inner desire to make it happen – that it went well is amazing.”
(Reporting by Philip O’Connor, editing by Ed Osmond)