Fantastic shooting and unexpected results highlight Winter Games21 Mar 2018
Ekaterina Rumyantseva took two golds and a silver in a stunning Paralympic biathlon debut
By Louise Wood | For the IPC
The biathlon races at the Paralympic Games in PyeongChang 2018 provided us with some fantastic performances that will remain in the memory for a long time to come. The action took place over three events– the sprint, the middle distance and the long distance.
There were some fabulous displays of shooting and some unexpected results that gave the spectators at the Alpensia Biathlon Stadium a lot to cheer. There were also many multiple medallists who gave us some special moments on the range and the tracks.
The American duo in the sitting class gave us an incredible start to the biathlon competitions. Neither had ever won a race before let alone a Paralympic medal. This was Gretsch’s first Games and she beat much more experienced biathletes like her teammate Oksana Masters and Germany’s Andrea Eskau despite missing one shot in the 6km.
Her teammate Daniel Cnossen did exactly the same in the very next race. He went to Sochi four years ago but his best result there was 10th place. Like Gretsch he missed one target but skied very well to take the gold.
France’s Benjamin Daviet came to PyeongChang desperate to win a medal in biathlon after the best he could do in Sochi was 7th. He went home with three. He won the biathlon sprint in impressive fashion by thirty seconds with clean shooting and fast skiing. He then took the title in the 12.5km but had a tougher job as he missed one target and won in the end by just six seconds. His quest for triple gold was not successful as he had to settle for silver in the 15km race but it was still an outstanding week for him.
After watching the action from Sochi four years ago on television, Neutral Paralympic Athlete Ekaterina Rumyantseva decided to take up biathlon and cross-country skiing. It proved to be a wise decision as she came to the Paralympic Games for the first time and won two golds and a silver medal in biathlon. The 27-year-old won the sprint by sixteen seconds and the 10km by well over a minute. She was denied a clean sweep in the 12.5km when she missed two targets but still did enough to claim the silver.
Already with four Paralympic biathlon titles in his pocket Vitaliy Luk’yanenko came to South Korea looking for more. The Ukrainian duly found it, winning another two races to boost his gold medal collection. He won the vision impaired sprint and the 15km missing just one target across the two races along with his guide Ivan Marchyshak. The 39-year-old won double biathlon gold in Sochi and remarkably did the same again here.
With many of the older and more experienced biathletes winning a lot of medals it was refreshing to see some young talent breaking through. At just 18, Ukraine’s Taras Rad won his first gold medal on his debut at the Paralympic Games. His calmness on the range, hitting all twenty targets, was beyond his years. Only one of two men to shoot clean in the 12.5m sitting race his victory was well deserved and came in the end by just over a minute.
The official website of PyeongChang 2018 can be found here.