PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - Johannes Thingnes Boe of Norway may have had a tough start to his second Games, but in the men’s 20km individual biathlon he finally achieved his Olympic target using his golden gun.
Boe, who is second behind France’s Martin Fourcade in the World Cup rankings, fell well short of expectations in his first two events, but his powerful skiing and accurate shooting provided a platform for victory despite two misses with his gun.
“It’s a great feeling, to describe with one word, it’s just amazing. It’s every nice word you can find,” he told a media conference.
The young Norwegian used his golden rifle to hit 18 of his 20 shots, and though he incurred two minutes in penalties, his powerful, aggressive skiing style allowed him to make up the time.
“The golden rifle? I had a pink rifle for two years, I wanted to change before the Olympics. The first season I came in the World Cup I had a golden rifle and I wanted to do it again,” he explained.
Boe feared his golden gun had let him down towards the end of the race.
“Today after the first shooting with one (miss) I still thought a medal could be possible, but after the last standing I thought I’d missed out on the podium,” he said.
“Ending in the first place today, I feel a little bit lucky, I know there was a lot of athletes out there that could beat me today, but this is the sport and today was just my day.”
Despite his tears of joy and relief as he realised he’d won gold, the 24-year-old said he did not feel under pressure following his underwhelming performances in the sprint and pursuit races.
“It was not so much pressure, I didn’t feel so much press before the sprint either. After the two bad races I let my shoulders down, I knew that there were still two great opportunities for me,” he said.
Boe’s fierce rival Fourcade missed his last two shots, opening the door for the Norwegian to take the gold medal, but it was his skis rather than his shooting that got him over the line.
“We both had two mistakes today and I was a little bit faster than him - that saved my result,” Boe said.
Reporting by Philip O'Connor, editing by Ed Osmond