Olympic Preview: Bjorndalen continues to make biathlon history

09:07, February 04, 2010      

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As a legend of the most demanding sport in the winter Olympics, Norway's Ole Einar Bjorndalen is determined to win his sixth gold medal at the coming Vancouver Winter Games.

The 35-year-old Norwegian has dominated the sport with a total of eight Olympic medals, including four golds in Salt Lake City in 2002 and one in Nagano in 1998.

As the current world champion in four of the five events and has 91 career victories in the World Cup competitions, he is amongst the favorites for the 20km individual race when the race starts in Whistler.

Competition on the men's side is expected to come from Germany and Russia. If Bjorndalen is the man to beat in Vancouver, then Germany's Michael Greis has to be a close second.

The 33-year-old Greis is the reigning Olympic champion in the individual race, relay team and the mass start. He also has 11 career victories under his belt, along with three golds in the World Championships.

Russia's Evgeny Ustyugov is another one to watch in the event and is vying for Bjorndalen's domination of the sport.

In Whistler, as in the season-to-season World Cup, men and women biathletes will compete in five disciplines: individual start, pursuit, sprint massed start and relay.

On the women's side, Germany's Magdalena Neuner is a name to watch out for.

Two years ago, the photogenic Neuner won the World Cup and finished the season with six World Championship gold medals in her collection, three each from the 2007 and 2008 championships.

A back injury, and a sudden drop in accuracy, blighted the 22-year-old's form last winter, but she seems to be hitting her stride in time for the Olympics.

Besides Neuner, Kati Wilhelm of Germany won four medals, two golds and two silver, during the recent World Championships in South Korea. Wilhelm is currently ranked fourth in the world. Russia's Olga Zaitseva won the mass start event and was a member of the winning relay team. The top-ranked woman biathlete is Helena Jonsson of Sweden.

Poor in the shooting part, Chinese biathlon team sent six athletes to Vancouver including the most competitive Liu Xianying, who aims at entering the top eight in the Games.

The biathlon competition begins on Saturday, February 13, with the women's 7.5 km sprint, and concludes on Friday, February 25 with the men's 4x7.5km relay.

Source: Xinhua
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