Born in Wallgau, a little village around 15 kilometres from Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Magdalena Neuner became a three-time Olympic medallist at the Vancouver Games in 2010.
The medals she won at her first Games were anything but a surprise to biathlon watchers. Indeed, before the Games, the German athlete already had an impressive record: seven years after starting her biathlon career, in 2003 she joined the national team, which featured stars like Katrin Appel, Andrea Henkel, Uschi Disl and Kati Wilhelm, Olympic relay champions in 2002. Magdalena began by winning five world junior titles. In 2007, a few weeks after joining the “grown-ups”, she won her first World Cup event, with her first World Championship medals coming a few weeks later. Two appearances at the top of the World Cup general ranking and seven world championship titles made for an exceptional CV for “Gold Lena”.
Could shoot better
Magdalena competed in her first Olympic event, the sprint, at Whistler in difficult weather conditions. Regarded as one of the best cross-country skiers in the world, the German demonstrated her skiing prowess and, despite a mistake in the shooting, finished second, with a silver medal. Three days later, in the pursuit, she started 1.5 seconds behind the first placed competitor. But she quickly made up the lost ground and went on to take an impressive lead over her rivals. Her two shooting mistakes did not prevent the little customs officer (measuring just 1.65m) from becoming Olympic champion for the first time. In the following event, Magdalena produced the best skiing time, but three shooting mistakes prevented her from achieving a podium finish.
So she tried again. In the 12.5 km mass start, “Gold Lena” started poorly, but caught up with her rivals and was leading after the last shooting round. Her two misses did not prevent her from achieving her second Olympic crown. Not chosen for the relay because of her general fatigue, she stayed by the side of the course to encourage her team mates, who finally finished third. Magdalena Neuner could then savour the memory of her successful first Olympic Games and spend some time on one of her favourite leisure activities: knitting!