Martin Fourcade of France accomplished one of his goals by winning a Gold medal in the men’s pursuit tonight, quieting all of the doubters with a dominating performance. He had just a single penalty in the first standing stage and finished in 33:48.6, 14.1 seconds ahead of clean-shooting Ondrej Moravec of Czech Republic. Fourcade’s teammate Jean Guilluame Beatrix, with a single penalty surprised everyone by winning the Bronze medal, 24.2 seconds back.
Perfect night number three for the pursuit. Every man was pushing at full speed as they left the packed stadium. Eight men came to the first prone together, about 25 seconds ahead of the field, led by Björndalen. Fourcade with aggressive skiing had moved into that group. Seven of them shot clean and left in a pack again. Seven went into the second prone together but only five shot clean, with four, Leguellec, Landertinger, Soukup and Fourcade together. Moravec in fifth was 21.5 seconds back.
By the time they reached the first standing, only three remained in the lead pack, as Leguellec fell and was out of contention. This time, Fourcade and Landertinger each had a penalty, and while they were on the penalty loop, Moravec cleaned. Fourcade left with a six second lead over Landertinger, with Moravec, Eder and Schempp at 9 seconds back. Fourcade came to the final standing with the same lead over the Austrian. As it had been all evening, the wind flags remained limp as they shot. Fourcade hit all five shots and turned to the crowd to give a double fist pump and left the range. Landertinger dropped his rifle and then missed and went to the penalty loop. Moravec shot clean again and left in second 17 seconds back, while Beatrix also cleaned and was just behind him, with Eder, Björndalen and Svendsen in hot pursuit. Martin Fourcade had the win in hand with Ondrej Moravec between him and Jean Guillaume Beatrix who was pulling away from the others.
Martin Fourcade never let up until the final small hill in the stadium; then eased off and as he finished, saluting the crowd at the same time. He turned around to see Moravec cross the finish line, and as Beatrix crossed, the Olympic Champion gave his teammate and training partner a big hug.
Fourcade said that today he was focused on winning. « I knew before the race that the only thing that would keep me from winning was me…I felt on the first loop that I was really strong. » He explained his fist pump after the last shot hit the target. « I knew if I cleaned that if I cleaned I would be Olympic Champion. It was just a celebration with all of the people who helped me. I still do not believe that I did it. I am incredibly proud of what I did. »
The Czech Coach Ondrej Rybar said he was « very happy that Moravec won this medal. He is a hard worker and has dreamed of this; he deserves this medal. » Moravec, who won the Czech Republic’s second biathlon medal in these Games, was all smiles as he talked about his day. « Shooting clean for the second time in my life…after that I knew could do it. I felt good on the last loop and I had a big gap…It is amazing for me…I expected the top 10 and now I have a medal. »
Beatrix commented on being greeted by Fourcade at the finish line. « I do not remember what he said, it is maybe the gestures and his smile when he saw me that are the most important when he gave me a hug. I think he is happy to be Olympic Champion, but maybe more happy that I could share the podium with him. »
source : biathlonworld.com photo : @_JeuxOlympiques