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At Sochi 2014, biathlete Martin Fourcade earned his fourth medal at the Olympic Winter Games to set a new French record.
The dawn of Martin Fourcade’s illustrious international career can be traced back to 21 February 2010 at Whistler Olympic Park (CAN). It was then that the powerful 21-year-old, who was raised in the shadow of the Pyrenees and attended a renowned sport-focused high school in Font-Romeu-Odeillo-Via, won a silver medal in the men’s mass start, finishing 10 seconds behind Russia’s Evgeny Ustyugov despite incurring three shooting penalties.
In the wake of Vancouver 2010, Fourcade, whose brother Simon is also an elite biathlete, picked up his first victories in the IBU World Cup (a sprint and two pursuits) and his first ever small crystal globe, in the pursuit. By the end of the 2013-2014 season, the French competitor had racked up 65 podium finishes, 31 wins, three consecutive overall World Cup titles (2012, 2013 and 2014) and 10 small crystal globes, four of which resulted in a rare biathlon “grand slam” (sprint, pursuit, individual and mass start) in 2013.
Fourcade landed his first IBU World Championship crown in March 2011 in Khanty-Mansiysk (RUS), pipping his main rival, Norway’s Emil Hegle Svendsen, to the gold medal in the pursuit. In addition, he collected silver in the sprint and bronze in the mixed relay with Marie-Laure Brunet, Marie Dorin and Alexis Boeuf. At the 2012 World Championships in Ruhpolding (GER) , the versatile athlete won three golds (sprint, pursuit and mass start) and a silver, while the following year in Nové Město na Moravě (CZE) he added another gold (20km individual) and four silvers. That meant that by the time he headed to Sochi for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, his CV included 12 world championship medals, including five golds.
Although Fourcade suffered early disappointment in Sochi, trailing 12 seconds behind eventual winner Ole Einar Bjørndalen (NOR) in the sprint to finish just sixth, he got his hands on his first Olympic gold in the pursuit 48 hours later, charismatically clenching his fist in celebration after registering a perfect performance in the final shooting bout. He then doubled his gold medal tally in the 20km individual event on 13 February, shrugging off a shooting penalty to finish ahead of Germany’s Eric Lesser by an impressive 12 seconds. The on-song Frenchman then capped off a marvellous Games by taking silver in the mass start behind old foe Emil Hegle Svendsen, who snatched victory by the smallest of margins. Having already equalled Jean-Claude Killy’s three-medal haul at Grenoble 1968, this final flourish saw Fourcade take his total to four, more than any other French athlete in Winter Olympic history.