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France’s Emilien Claude was not the first in his family to put a Winter Youth Olympic Games medal around his neck when he won the men’s 7.5km sprint at Birkebeineren Biathlon Stadium on Sunday.
But unlike his brother Fabien, 22, who won bronze in the biathlon mixed relay at the Innsbruck 2012 Youth Olympic Games, he can now pride himself on being a gold medallist.
The 16-year-old finished in 19 minutes 1.5 seconds with a clean shooting performance at the Lillehammer 2016 Youth Olympic Games. “It’s really incredible to shoot clean. Before, I only shot clean twice in a sprint. I had a good performance and on the ski it was good, so I’m really happy. It was a perfect day,” he said.
Shooting forms an integral part of successful biathlon.
The French biathlete gained the lead after the second set of shooting, and even though Norway’s Sivert Guttorm Bakken skied faster over the third lap, it was not quite enough to take the lead.
“In lap three, in my head it was ‘maybe I win, maybe no’. I wanted to ski before thinking [about the result],” Claude said. “When I was approaching the finish it was too hard, it was too long. But when I finished and saw that I was first, I thought ‘wow’.”
The Frenchman, who said he had been thinking about this race for the last year, explained that skiing is very much a family affair for the Claudes. “My mother [Christine] was a great athlete in cross-country skiing, and I have two brothers [Fabien, 22, and Florent, 25] who are in the IBU [International Biathlon Union] cup and in the world cup in biathlon.
“[Having successful brothers] is really an advantage for me, because in shooting and skiing they are really good and they give me experience. This weekend they are in the IBU cup and I’m here, so it’s really great.”
Lillehammer native Bakken, who had the advantage of competing on home ground, where he knows “where it is smart to go faster and harder as I have done a lot of hard training here,” was disappointed to miss out on first place.
“This was great fun, but also a little bit annoying, because it was a very close race. But of course, a racer who shoots 10 out of 10 will always be hard to beat,” the Norwegian said after securing the silver medal thanks to a time of 19:08.6 with two penalties, only 7.1 seconds behind Claude.
Russia's Egor Tutmin finished in third spot in the men's 7.5km sprint.
Russia’s Egor Tutmin, who won the bronze medal in 19:19.5 with two penalties in the standing position, said: “It was a very good race for me. The French guy [who started 47th out of 50 competitors] was always ahead as he had full information on how we performed. I think he might have felt more comfortable because of that. He is a very good athlete.”
Written by YIS / IOC EMMA LUPANO with IOC Young Reporter Vegard Anders Skorpen
Emma Lupano is a reporter for the Lillehammer Youth Information Service ‘YIS’. Milan-based Emma has worked at the last five Olympic Games and also covered the Innsbruck 2012 and Nanjing 2014 YOGs. A China specialist, she has worked as a freelance journalist from Beijing for four years.