Sweden held their nerve on the shooting range to complete a comfortable victory in the men’s 4x7.5km relay at PyeongChang 2018 on Friday 23 February. Posting a winning time of one hour, 15 minutes and 16.5 seconds at the Alpensia Biathlon Centre, the Swedes won by 55.5 seconds from Norway, with Germany taking the bronze.
The last biathlon event at PyeongChang 2018 began with Germany (Erik Lesser, Benedikt Doll, Arnd Peiffer and Simon Schempp) taking a 40-second lead only for to Doll to miss five of his eight shots on his standing shoot and concede the lead to the Czech Republic.
Neighbours do battle
Third at the start of the third leg, Sweden (Peppe Femling, Jesper Nelin, Sebastian Samuelsson and Fredrik Lindstroem) then fought it out with old rivals Norway (Lars Helge Birkeland, Tarjei Boe, Johannes Thingnes Boe and Emil Hegle Svendsen). Taking over in fourth, 30 seconds off the lead, Boe took Norway into a narrow lead from the Swedes at the final handover, with German anchor Schempp just 13 seconds off the pace.
Schempp missed vital shots in the prone to make it an all-Scandinavian two-horse race for gold. And when Lindstroem shot clean at the standing shoot and Svendsen missed four targets, the Swedish anchor was able to coast to the line to complete a famous and unexpected victory.
Martin Fourcade’s bid for a fourth gold medal of PyeongChang 2018 ended in disappointment as France came home fifth, several minutes behind the leaders.
Swedish dreams fulfilled
“I’ve lost my voice. It’s absolutely fantastic,” said Samuelsson who shot clear on his leg to help Sweden collect their second biathlon gold at PyeongChang 2018 and fourth medal in the discipline at these Winter Games. “It’s a dream come true. It’s a cliché but that’s what it really is.”
“It’s my first Olympic medal and it’s a gold one. I can’t believe it,” added anchorman Lindstroem. “I remember when I was a little kid and watched the Olympics and dreamed about being there one day. And now we are the Olympic champions. That’s crazy.”
“It was a good day. It was tricky out there, so a medal today is good,” said Svendsen after picking up his eighth Olympic biathlon medal, putting him joint third on the discipline’s all-time list. “The relay’s really important for our team. We tried to get the gold but it’s not always that easy. A medal is amazing.”
“A medal at the Olympics is so great for any athlete and we did it today,” added Johannes Thingnes Boe, delighted to pick up silver alongside his brother Tarjei.
We work together as a team and we’ve been doing that from last winter up to now. Our goal for the season was to get the medal in the relay, and now we’ve got one in both relays. We’re really happy.Johannes Thingnes Boe Sweden
“It was a really crazy race and we had no idea how it would work out until the end,” said Germany’s Doll after helping his country land a seventh medal in the last eight Olympic biathlon men’s relay events. “Overall I think we should be really happy about the bronze.”