21st-century sporting hero
Norwegian biathlete Emil Hegle Svendsen won two titles at Sochi 2014 to take his Olympic gold medal collection to four.
The road to success
Emil Hegle Svendsen has achieved much in a distinguished career that has seen him reach the top of his sport and enjoy many a memorable joust with France’s Fourcade brothers, Simon and Martin. Between 2003 and 2005, he won seven Junior World Championship medals, four of them gold, and at the age of 20 took part in his first Olympic Winter Games in Turin, where he claimed a respectable sixth place in the mass start.
A first taste of Olympic glory
Regular IBU World Cup victories across the various biathlon events started to come Svendsen’s way from 2007, and by the time the 2009/10 season came to a conclusion he was the world No1, walking away with the large crystal globe and winning three Olympic medals in Vancouver: a silver in the sprint behind France’s Vincent Jay, and golds in the 20km individual and the relay, where he teamed up with Halvard Hannevold, Tarjei Bø and Ole Einar Bjørndalen.
Medals, victories and globes galore
His medal haul in the seven world championships he had contested by 2014 stands at 17, including 11 golds. His most successful worlds came in Nove Mesto in 2013, when he won medals in each of the five events he entered: a bronze in the mass start and golds in the sprint, the pursuit, the mixed relay and the 4x7.5km relay. In the World Cup, meanwhile, as of 31 March 2014 he had amassed no fewer than 36 wins, 71 podium finishes, one large crystal globe and four small ones, including the 2014 individual title.
At the double… again
Svendsen was not at his best as Sochi 2014 got under way, with Norway’s cross-country and biathlon teams both having equipment problems and finding it hard to get their waxing right in the slushy conditions. As a result, the great Norwegian could finish only ninth in the sprint and pursuit events and seventh in the 20km individual, while his arch rival Martin Fourcade walked away with two gold medals. Redemption came in a dramatic showdown with Fourcade in the mass start. With the final standing shoot behind them, the two men went into the final sprint with nothing to separate them. When Svendsen pulled clear at the final turn, Fourcade responded with a late burst, making a last-ditch lunge for the line but failing by the width of a ski to deny his great rival. Svendsen wemt on to win the fourth gold medal of his career in the inaugural mixed relay.