Russian biathlon team battle to second medal of Beijing Games
The Russian Olympic Committee’s (ROC) biathlon team had to settle for bronze in a thrilling finish in the mixed 4x6km relay event in Beijing.
With Eduard Latypov leading the Russian quartet home, he was locked in a three-way battle for gold with rivals from Norway and France which went right to the wire.
Latypov narrowly missed out as Johannes Thingnes Boe crossed the line first in a combined time of 1:06:45.06 for the Norwegian team, followed by France’s Quentin Fillon Maillet just 0.9 seconds behind and Latypov a further 0.6 seconds back.
Latypov collapsed to the ground after the finish, having been in contention for gold until the very last moments of a stirring conclusion.
But the performance at the Zhangjiakou National Biathlon Center was nonetheless impressive from the Russian quartet of Latypov, Alexander Loginov, Kristina Reztsova and Uliana Nigmatullina.
France were the defending champions, having won gold in Pyeongchang four years ago, although Norway were winners in 2014 in Sochi and were heavily fancied.
For the Russian team – competing as the ROC – it is a first ever Olympic medal in the event.
The mixed 4x6km relay event is making its third appearance at a Winter Games.
The event begins with a mass start featuring the first skier from each team. Each member of the quartet has two firing sequences – one prone and one in a standing position – as they make their way around the course.
The bronze for the ROC team follows a first medal of the Beijing Games won earlier on Saturday by Natalia Nepryaeva in the women’s 15km skiathlon.
ROC president Stanislav Pozdnyakov has said the team is targeting around 30 medals at the Beijing Winter Games – a marked increase on the 17 they earned in South Korea four years ago.