When Uschi Disl reflects on her career as the most decorated female biathlete at the Olympic Winter Games – with nine medals across five editions – it is to her Games debut at Albertville 1992 that her mind most often returns.
Disl won silver alongside the former team leaders from East and West Germany respectively, Antje Misersky and Petra Schaaf, as Germany competed for the first time at the Olympics since reunification in 1990.
She said: “It is something you never forget. I have more vivid memories of those Games than any others. I was thrilled to play a kind of first-hand role in history.”
Disl is the subject of an Olympic Channel episode of Legends Live On, which also features double Olympic gymnastics champion Svetlana Khorkina; Pieter van den Hoogenband, who won three titles in the pool; six-time fencing champion Valentina Vezzali; and Didier Dinart, two-time Olympic handball champion.
Born in 1970, Disl grew up in the village of Grosseglsee, Bavaria, and was encouraged to take up biathlon by her father Sepp, who believed she could rise quickly in the sport after starting out as a cross-country skier.
So it proved, and after silver in Albertville, where women competed in biathlon for the first time, Disl went on to win silver and bronze two years later in Lillehammer.
It was in Nagano, Japan, that Disl claimed her first gold medal, when she overturned an eight-second deficit to guide Germany to the 7.5km sprint relay title. She also clinched 7.5km individual silver and 15km bronze, giving her a full set of medals. She received a golden gun to mark her triumph.
Germany successfully defended their 7.5km relay title in Salt Lake City in 2002, with Disl again taking individual silver, before she headed to what she knew would be her final Games in Turin in 2006, aged 35.
Determined to end her career on the podium, the words of encouragement of rival Martina Beck on the course to “go get that medal” have been seared into her memory, as they demonstrated an “incredible spirit of fair play”. She did get that medal – a bronze – after which she retired.
Disl was employed as a TV commentator, before a desire to get away from it all saw her move to a farm in Sweden with her two children and partner to run a biathlon company. In 2017, Disl became involved with Right to Play, an aid organisation that empowers children to overcome adversity through sport.