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Sharp shooting from Kuzmina secures gold in women’s 12.5km mass start

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Slovakia’s Anastasiya Kuzmina displayed incredible accuracy at the range to win gold in the women’s 12.5km mass start at the Alpensia Biathlon centre on Saturday 17 February

After having already won two silver medals in the women’s pursuit and individual races at PyeongChang 2018, Kuzmina celebrated gold as she crossed the line holding the Slovak flag in a time of 35 minutes 23 seconds. 

Darya Domracheva (BLR) finished second to win silver, 18.8 seconds behind the winner, while Norway's Tiril Eckhoff, 27.7 seconds behind Kuzmina, won a second consecutive bronze medal in this event.

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The 33-year-old Kuzmina went into the last shoot with a huge 50-second advantage and despite shooting wide with her last shot, her only miss of the race, she still had enough of a lead to add a third victory to the two 7.5km sprint golds won at Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014.

Kuzmina’s victory meant saw her equal the record of her compatriots, twin brothers Pavol and Peter Hochschorner in canoe slalom, for the most gold medals in Summer and Winter Games representing Slovakia. She also equalled Darya Domracheva (BLR) and MartinFourcade (FRA) with three gold medals in individual biathlon events, behind only Norway’s Ole Einar Bjoerndalen.

This race was really hard for me, and I was really tired, but now I am so happy,” said an exhausted Kuzmina.“I was happy with two silvers, but today I was really relaxed and wasn't thinking about if I [win a] medal. I just competed, I just enjoyed this race.”

Kuzmina admitted that he had felt nervous coming into the range for the last time. “In my career I never shoot clean four times,” she said. “Today, after three times zero, I was reaching for my last shooting, and I was worried about it.I'm so happy that my ski time was good enough, and saved my position.”

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An inspiration

Domracheva admitted that she had also felt under stress during her race, but that she was relieved to have overcome those feelings to win a silver medal. “I felt amazing and awful, all in one box,” she said.“I was so stressed, but I'm very happy that I overcame all the difficulties and had the power and the concentration for today's race.”

One Belarusian journalist had been so moved with the 31-year-old’s podium finish that she was reduced to cheers during a post-race interview. “It was a big wish to give people some happiness,” said Domracheva.“It is the best thing that you can see in sport, that you can inspire and give them some strong feelings. I'm very happy that I took the silver.” 

Last chance

The 27-year-old Eckhoff said that she only believed she was in contention for a medal when she left the last shooting. “I was like, 'Whoa, I'm able to manage to take a medal'!" she said. “[Crossing the line] was magical because I was so scared of Kaisa (Makarainen, FIN) and everybody behind. To manage to be third was great today. It means a whole lot because I've had a really, really tough season so far. To manage this, it was my last chance and I'm very happy.”

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