By Philip O’Connor
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) – Sweden’s Hanna Oeberg may have crossed the finish line in the fastest time, but the 22-year-old faced a long and agonizing wait to see if her efforts in the women’s 15km individual biathlon race would be rewarded with an Olympic gold medal.
With Germany’s double Olympic champion Laura Dahlmeier, still out on the course, Oeberg knew that anything could happen.
“I was so pleased with my effort, it was completely sick to have to wait to see if Dahlmeier would beat me or not,” she told Reuters.
With Dahlmeier making an early miss in the shooting, a tearful Oeberg knew she had a chance to take gold as she received the support of her team mates and waited to learn her fate.
“I saw immediately that Hanna was in the lead and that she couldn’t be caught. I dropped my things as quickly as I could and just ran there,” team mate Mona Brorsson, who finished 14th, told Reuters.
“She understood that there was no-one else out on the course that could threaten her and it’s such a relief, everything let’s go, she’s won. It’s gigantic. I don’t think anyone understands how big this is,” she added.
“It’s so emotional. It’s so unbelievably big.”
The Swedish biathlon team has worked extremely hard in preparation for the Pyeongchang Games.
“It’s a lot of time, high intensity, and at times you’re so worn out you don’t know if you can deal with it. That’s our strength – in that team spirit we have. We’re happy for each other when it goes well and we support each other when it’s tough,” Brorsson said.
Brorsson may have been convinced that her team mate was headed for the top step of the podium, but Oeberg revealed that she wasn’t sure until her long wait was nearly over.
“I didn’t see the miss (by Dahlmeier), but when I saw on the last lap that she wasn’t closing the gap I knew,” she said.
(Reporting by Philip O’Connor, editing by Ed Osmond)