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Martin Fourcade, biathlon supremo ready to strike gold

Martin Fourcade, biathlon supremo ready to strike gold
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23/12/2013

Having taken silver in the mass start in Vancouver, the world’s number one biathlete, Martin Fourcade of France is aiming to win the first Olympic gold medal of his career at Sochi 2014.

Martin Fourcade will head to Sochi brimming with confidence after his stunning exploits during the 2012/13 IBU World Cup Biathlon season. In scoring 10 wins in all events, the 25-year-old Frenchman topped the overall standings for the second year running, and completed a crystal-globe grand slam by heading the sprint, pursuit, individual and mass start rankings, a feat achieved only once before - by fellow Frenchman Raphael Poiree in 2004. “I think it would be difficult for me or anyone else to be any more consistent than that,” he said of his astonishing campaign. “In pure performance terms, though, I still have room for improvement in every event. I’m not at 100 percent in any area and that’s what’s driving me on. I wouldn’t feel motivated if I thought I’d reached my peak.”

Winning the silver medal Fourcade behind Russia’s Evgeny Ustyugov in the mass start at Vancouver 2010 is widely regarded as the moment his career took off, though the Frenchman does not quite see things that way: “I don’t really feel that was the moment when things started to happen for me,” he reflects. “I knew what I was capable of, though it did speed things up and allowed me to break into the elite more quickly.”

Fourcade will be hoping to fare even better at Sochi, where he notched World Cup wins in the 20km individual and 10km sprint at the Olympic test event in March 2013. “I like the venue,” he said afterwards. “It’s a tough course and the countryside is wonderful.”

 

Medal chase 

Fourcade will use this season’s World Cup events to prepare for his Olympic assault. Discussing his goals in the build-up to Sochi, he said: “Winning races will help me build my confidence and mark out my territory.”

The Pyrenees-born biathlete will be competing in every event available to him in Russia: “I’ve got six chances and I’m going to give each event my very best shot, taking them one by one,” he says “It’s not a case of wanting to win one event more than another. I’ll just take them as they come. I need to go there and do what a man’s got to do before trying to end on a high note in the relay.” He has always relished the relay, and his enjoyment will be further heightened by the fact that he will be competing alongside his brother Simon. Reflecting on his team’s chances, Fourcade said: “We’ve all known each other since we were 10 and the team has a lot of history behind it, which could give us an edge over the other nations. We have to go and take that final step. We’ve never managed to do it at the Games before, but we’ve got the ability this time.”

The winner of five world titles and 24 World Cup races since 2011, Fourcade is now aiming to grab the one prize that has so far eluded him: “I competed in the Olympic Games four years ago and it’s better to know what to expect. It will help me prepare better for the occasion and to handle it better when I’m there.”

 

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