PyeongChang 2018: Golden Gretsch goes for third Paralympic title

US biathletes in pole position to take biathlon medals on day four 13 Mar 2018
three female sit skiers celebrate their medals

Kendall Gretsch (C) can continue her clean sweep of golds in the biathlon middle distance

ⒸGetty Images
By Louise Wood | For the IPC

Biathlon returns to the Para Nordic programme on Tuesday (13 March) with the women’s 10km and men’s 12.5km races.

Kendall Gretsch will start the biathlon middle distance race with two gold medals already in the bag. She is the woman to beat in the sitting events at this Paralympics and it is hard to see anyone stopping her from adding to her medal collection.

Teammate Oksana Masters is suffering with an arm injury and is not able to ski at her best but has every confidence in teammate Gretsch.

“She's a biathlete at heart, she is just the persona of biathlon. She is cool, calm, collected and sweet and when it gets time to race she just gets after it and I'm so excited.”

Reigning Paralympic Champion Germany’s Anja Wicker will be aiming to defend her title and stop the charge of the American. She will also face stiff competition from her own teammate Andrea Eskau and current World Champion Lidziya Hrafeyeva of Belarus.

The reigning world champion in the men’s sitting 12.5km Germany’s Martin Fleig wants to repeat his success from Finsterau in this event. He finished 6th in the biathlon sprint on Saturday but prefers the longer distance races.

His opposition will likely come from sprint gold medallist America’s Daniel Cnossen, South Korea’s Eui Hyun Sin, Canadian Collin Cameron and Dzmitry Loban from Belarus.

The women’s vision impaired race will feature a battle between the Paralympic Champion Neutral Paralympic athlete Mikhalina Lysova and World Champion Olga Prylutska of Ukraine. They will be joined in the fight for medals by another Ukrainian Oksana Shyshkova and gold medallist from the cross country long event Sviatlana Sakhanenka of Belarus.

Looking to make a successful defence of his Paralympic title in the men’s vision impaired 12.5km is Vitaliy Luk’yanenko of Ukraine. He is up against teammate and World Champion Iurii Utkin. Another Ukrainian Anatolii Kovalevskyi will also be in the running as well as Yury Holub who is chasing a third medal.

In the women’s standing 10km Neutral Paralympic athlete Ekaterina Rumyantseva will also be seeking a third gold medal. However after competing on Monday in the 15km cross-country race tiredness will be a big factor for all the women.

“After 15km in the cross country there was this weight, tiredness. I wanted to go quickly to drink water. I need to recover for the next race. I have a race tomorrow and the day after.”

Liudmyla Liashenko of Ukraine will be hoping to make the podium again and Neutral Paralympic athlete Anna Milenina will be hunting her first gold in PyeongChang.

The Ukraine’s Irina Bui and Canada’s Brittany Hudak both chose not to race on Monday and so will be fresher than the others and could get amongst the medals.

Mark Arendz also from Canada is the current world champion in the men’s standing 12.5km. He is another who chose not to ski the cross-country long race on Monday which should give him the advantage over rivals Benjamin Daviet of France and Ihor Reptyukh of Ukraine. These three shared the podium in the biathlon sprint and could do so again on Tuesday.

Every competition as well as the Opening and Closing Ceremonies can be watched live right here on the International Paralympic Committee’s website. Highlights of each day’s action will also be made available.